Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and Matthew McConnaughey
Running Time: 179 minutes
Release Date: January 17th
With his directing credits now numbering well into the fifties, Martin Scorsese brings us The Wolf of Wall Street. This is the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his company Stratton Oakmont, established by Belfort after he realised how much money could be made by trading in penny stocks. The film charts the rise of the firm and Belfort through the sheer excesses of Wall Street culture in the late 1980s and 1990s, to the eventual demise brought on by drugs and a federal investigation.
The film has courted some controversy due to its depictions of sex and drugs, and to some extent it’s true that there is no smoke without fire, it’s certainly not a film to watch with your mother. What Scorsese and DiCaprio have brought us here is a sort of Goodfellas for the recession generation and thankfully a filmmaker of Scorsese’s skill decided to make it. In the hands of a lesser director, the accusations levelled at the film would probably be true. Scorsese has managed to keep them looking cheap and tacky. They have simply done what art should do, they are portraying events that actually happened. If one is disgusted by these excesses then one should be disgusted at the stockbrokers.
DiCaprio has rightly earned himself an Oscar nomination for his leading role, this is as good as he’s been since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? It’s undoubtedly the best he’s been in his collaborations with Scorsese. Jonah Hill continues to show there’s more to him than being very capable of delivering dick jokes despite his insistence on continuing to star in films where all he’s required to do is deliver dick jokes. Beyond these two leads however there are no real stand out performances as there are no real standout roles. Margot Robbie graduates from Neighbours to take the Lorraine Bracco role but beyond nailing the American accent fails to convince. There are however some nice cameos from the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and Joanna Lumley (no, really) to enjoy.
Coming in at three hours the film rarely drags but nor does the running time zip by unnoticed, leaving the viewer with a very uneven viewing experience as scenes that are destined to become classics are mixed with some that probably didn’t need to be there. Surprisingly for a Scorsese film the main weakness of the film lies in its soundtrack. There are times when the songs selected mix in that perfect way Scorsese has done in the past, such as when The Lemonheads cover of ‘Mrs Robinson’ plays over the FBI raid. However most of the time the music choice just seems to jar, this peaks when we’re treated to the Foo Fighters at a time when they just don’t fit.
In conclusion the film successfully walks the tightrope of displaying the playboy excesses of Belfort’s world without ever making it look like something one should aspire to. Nor is it a rallying call for the lynching of bankers. It is instead a great portrayal of Matthew chapter sixteen, verse twenty-six; for what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world but lose his soul.