re:View: The Wolf of Wall Street

By Michael Walker

When I first saw the trailer for Scorsese’s new movie, I thought Leonardo Di’Caprio’s character was Henry Hill from Goodfellas – he looks just like him.

Turns out the Wolf of Wall Street is a true story about the rise and fall of stock broker turned money grabbing flea-bag Jordan Belfort, performed brilliantly by Di’Caprio. Co-starring Jonah Hill as Belfort’s partner-in-crime Donnie Azoff, the film recalls the events of Jordan Belfort’s life from his rise from talented, smarmy stock broker to the founding of his own brokerage house Stratton Oakmont. But, was all this legal?

The Wolf of Wall street is the perfect depiction of the decadence of wealth. It follows Jordan Belfort (Di’Caprio) enjoying a life of endless drugs and prostitutes paid for by his moronic clients buying fraudulently inflated stocks. Whilst tripping at a party swarming with escorts, Belfort meets the beautiful (and boring) Naomi Lapaglia played by Margot Robbie. And so follows an incredibly raunchy affair which leaves NOTHING to the imagination – but I’m not complaining.

As a film, it’s what we’d expect from anything directed by Martin Scorsese. The way the movie is filmed and the exciting pace throughout is slick. Overlaid with narration from Belfort and featuring immersing slow-mo’s, the film is visually stunning – what more could we expect from a veteran film-maker like Marty? While the cinematography and story-telling is brilliant, it lacks one key aspect – an actual story.

The film’s entertainment value is worthy of NASDAQ. From shaving a woman’s head to dwarf-tossing, it’s truly outrageous, with Jonah Hill marking one of his best performances to date. Di’Caprio’s character is reminded of what destruction he causes whilst under the influence through flashbacks which are very entertaining. The setting is usually a testosterone-fuelled office, raucous with stock brokers off their face on cocaine and prostitutes casually hanging around whilst Stratton Oakmont employees make 6-figure deals.

To the average Scorsese aficionado, Wolf will please due to its artsy-fartsy camerawork and the trademark electric pace, but I see it as an over-hyped movie. The drug-taking is everywhere, and it just makes it look so fun and enjoyable – with no consequences whatsoever. It’s quite pretentious and even shallow in how it depicts the ‘perfect life’ of a wealthy stock broker.  Oh and when I say the characters take drugs everywhere, I mean literally everywhere. They get high in the office, on their way to the office, in a car, on a plane, in a yacht, in a gym, a woman’s b… get the picture.

As a film I really enjoyed it, but it doesn’t give a good message across. I can see that Scorsese has tried to create a character and a story that the audience can relate to and follow vicariously – starting as a rookie stock broker and ending up as a Forbes-listed big shot. But it just feels like a film crammed with eye candy, rimmed with profanity, nudity and narcotics. Jordan Belfort reaches the end of this long movie having learnt nothing, and achieves nothing.

Although it doesn’t live up to the standard of the acclaimed director’s previous works, The Wolf of Wall Street is an enjoyable 3-hour film of debauchery and outrageous comedy. What lets it down is its inability to instil a visceral interest in the characters as Scorsese has done so well in the past (Henry Hill of Goodfellas and Travis Bickle of Taxi Driver). Overall, a fun, visually artistic yet flawed film.


One Response to re:View: The Wolf of Wall Street

  1. Mary Livenblack says:

    The treatment of women was wholly disgusting and depressing in this film. Also regardless of Marty’s intentions on portraying the Stratonites, teenage boys will walk out wanting to be emulate Jordan. Quite sad really.