Nominated for five Oscars including this year’s Best Picture award, and coming in at a hefty three hours, The Wolf of Wall Street is another Scorsese-Dicaprio enterprise. It tells the outrageous “true story” of shady stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) and his rise to wealth, via some less than legal means and his inevitable fall complete with criminal charges.
I won’t dwell on the plot because, as always, you can find that easily elsewhere. What I will say is that this is a stylish, mind-bogglingly jam-packed, eye-poppingly near the knuckle, funny, gratuitous film about a truly dreadful human being who is completely devoid of anything even remotely resembling morals. [Aaaaand breathe].
Earlier this week Leo won the Golden Globe for best actor (his second win, eighth nomination) and was nominated for the best actor Oscar (his fourth nomination) and it’s quite easy to see why. Belfort, as he’s portrayed here, is pure corporate psychopath. Looking at the diagnostic tool used by the medical profession to diagnose psychopathy and anti-social disorders, he’s a perfect match. He’s glib, superficially charming, grandiose, lacks empathy, sexually promiscuous, impulsive, irresponsible and so on. But I digress. Leo plays it perfectly.
Belfort has no redeeming characteristics and yet you want to carry on watching, you want to know what happens to him and, while you aren’t necessarily on his side, you care about the outcome. This, I’m sure, is tribute to Leo’s skills and is nothing to do with the character, he’s way beyond unlikable.
Lest this become a Dicaprio-centric love-in, let’s talk about the supporting cast for a moment. Jonah Hill, in spite of his distracting teeth, was a very welcome surprise as Belfort’s right hand man, and has even earned his own Oscar nomination for his role. Matthew McConaughey pops in, looking rather ill, presumably off the back of his own Oscar nominated performance as an AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club. Rob Reiner (the man who brought us films as wonderful and diverse as The Princess Bride and This is Spinal Tap) shows up as Belfort’s dad, who gets pretty narked when anyone phones during The Equalizer. I was also happy to see our very own Joanna Lumley appear as Mrs Belfort #2’s English Aunt.
This one probably isn’t for the faint-hearted, two old ladies walked out after about half an hour, but oh! The things they’d already seen! If you don’t object to almost constant scenes of drug use (these people will put anything up their noses), liberal use of bad language (every other word is a swear), surprisingly frequent and lingering shots of female full-frontal nudity (you couldn’t quite tell what they’d had for breakfast, but I was a little taken aback nonetheless) then this may be the film for you.
I will definitely watch this again, when it comes out on DVD, not least because it’s already hard to remember everything that happened – Wolf is both long and pacey, so there’s a lot to get through. I can’t help shaking the feeling that this story would’ve been better served by being made into a Showtime or HBO mini-series. Just one, though. None of your dragging it out beyond it’s logical conclusion Homeland-style.
Here’s the real Jordan Belfort promoting The Wolf of Wall Street on Australian breakfast TV.