Movie Review: 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Jan 04, 2014, 09:49 IST | Mihir Fadnavis

How does this Scorsese guy do it? 71 years old and he’s still at the top of his game with the energy of a 22-year-old

'The Wolf of Wall Street'
A; Comedy
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin

How does this Scorsese guy do it? 71 years old and he’s still at the top of his game with the energy of a 22-year-old.

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio in 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

The Wolf of Wall Street will do two things to you: 1) It makes you laugh till your sides hurt, and 2) It makes you take a shower ASAP. Because it’s a rare movie that makes you laugh and makes you feel guilty for laughing.

Debauchery has never been captured so sharply on screen before and The Wolf of Wall Street is a three hour long drunk story, cautionary tale and horror movie rolled into one. It’s spectacular. It’s repulsive. It’s the Goodfellas of the modern-day gangsters (read: investment bankers) and it’s Scorsese’s best effort since The Departed.

The protagonist, Jordan Belfort, is a thoroughly unlikely character and in some instances, hilariously so. Some of the things that happen in the movie are so over-the-top you won’t believe they’re real. The funny thing is they are real and the amount of excess and overindulgence that Wall Street honchos engage in is ridiculous. Show those guys this film and they’ll clap and cheer at Belfort’s wrongdoings.

Leo, in the performance of his career, plays Belfort like any hotshot top-level Wall Street banker. I knew Leo is a great dramatic actor but I never expected his comic timing to be this insane.

Take the performances of all the cast members of 2000’s terrific Boiler Room, multiply them by a thousand and that’s still less awesome than Leo’s portrayal of Belfort. There is a 10-minute scene where his character is completely bonkers on drugs, he’s unable to walk, and he struggles to crawl to his car but somehow drives back home still out of his wits, watches Popeye eating spinach on television and later becoming strong, he snorts cocaine to come back to his senses.
This particular scene will be used in film school textbooks in the chapter titled ‘How to render a bad*** f*****g performance’. This team of Scorsese and Leo is certainly one of the greatest things to happen in cinema history and we’re lucky to live in the era where this is possible.

The supporting cast is equally terrific, Jonah Hill seems to be getting better as he ages and there’s Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin and a half-a-dozen other extended cameos all bringing their own devilish scumbaggy charm to the crime-comedy.

There is a bit of outrage regarding the movie being sexist and glorifying drug use. The joke’s on you because the movie isn’t misogynist but you are if you enjoy the stuff happening on screen. Portrayal of misogyny and drugs is never defence of misogyny and drugs and if you’ve seen any Scorsese film to date, you should know that by now. Not once does the film condone Belfort’s behaviour and Scorsese makes it a point to not victimise Belfort for falling into the drug trap — he is shown as an innately narcissistic individual who wanted to do the disgusting things that he did.

Belfort basically wanted more and more money, sex and drugs, and the film ultimately becomes him — offering more and more outlandish scenarios as it goes on. Every scene is long, indulgent and excessive but so energetic, euphoric and shocking you can’t take your eyes off it. It’s definitely not something you should see with your parents. But it’s definitely something you need to see to know that entitled a**holes like Belfort get away with minor jail time while others are branded criminals and rot in prison for far lesser offenses.

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