Thursday, 6 February 2014

The Wolf Of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese sure knows how to throw a party. Dazzling to the eye, explicit in every nature and exploiting every moral to be had The Wolf Of Wall Street is without a doubt the epitome of screen entertainment. The monster movie (a 3-hour debacle of addictive crazy) never stops to take a breathe. It's all helicopters, tantrums, pool parties, big boats, strippers, hallucinations, animals, expletives shouted and hired dwarves. Addressing the tired storyline of the fall of a Wall Street king that we have too often seen in films such as The Company Men, Inside Job and Wall Street - Scorsese brings new light to an all too familiar genre.  

Jordan Belfort's steady climb in the financial world is amusing as it is illegal. He develops from a wide-eyed ambitious young man fresh on Wall Street to a drugged-up smooth talking legend. On his way up, he upgrades.... everything - from his car to his job to his friends and finally to his wife. And while moving up in the corporate ladder, he sheds moral after moral at no expense. Belfort and his team of compatriots spend more time planning how to spend their money than actually making it. And this is the primary source of entertainment.
If ever there was a perfectly OTT film - than this is it. 

Short on sentimental value and high (hehe geddit) on obscenities Belfort is never without a trusty canister of pills, something illegal up his nose or swimming in his system. In his wildest role yet, I must say that DiCaprio has simply nailed it this time. He has mastered Belfort's spontaneity, his silver-tongued notoriety and his reliance on drugs. His fanatical speech-making is actually believable - he isn't just persuasive because it's a film. If you were there, you'd swallow that bullshit whole too. 

In dubbing The Wolf of Wall Street a "monster" film, I mean also that it is a wild combination of genres and sub-genres. It never fully inspires, scares or appeals to our sense of humanity. Rather, Scorsese has opted for the this-is-how-it-was formula. There is no shame, there is no limit to the gross-out humour or to the level of crudeness. 
Rather than having the financial themes of film alienate the audience, Scorsese has managed to transform it all into a colourful tactical game of greed and excess. He makes the world of finance so often painted as tedious seem intriguing. It is a refreshing depiction of a clichéd story-world. 

Each of the characters infuriate, from the non-sensical Jonah Hill character, Donnie, to the impulsiveness of our protagonist to the cold calculation of mistress and latter wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie). The young Australian actress is mesmerising in her role. Her perfect drawling Brooklyn accent to her slick ways with Belfort. The interactions between the two develop from chemical to comfortable to chaotic and Margie Robbie accommodates the progression of her intriguing character admirably well. Although much the same can be said for Jonah Hill, an actor of notorious comedic stature, I cannot help but criticise Hill for slowly becoming a typecast. I find actors who harness an attraction to the comedic genre seem rather confined to it. A fine example of this is Jim Carrey who starred in Dumb and Dumber, Yes Man, The Truman Show and The Mask in quick succession - the similarities between his characters being glaringly obvious. He did attempt to break this trend however with the romantic science-fiction thriller Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind where his introverted character put all us critics in our place. Jonah Hill's typecasting dates back to his role in Superbad, 21 Jump Street and Get Him To The Greek. Whilst he proves time and time again of his promising aptitude for the "funny man" stance, it his range which discredits his performance in Wolf.     

I often struggle to appreciate biographical films. As they are the sum of someone's life and entail numerous significant events I find they often lack direction. Rather than having a primary focus, they simply incorporate too much. This being said - one of my favourite films happens to a biographical one - Into The Wild. Here, director Sean Penn has managed to perfectly portray one person's life by detailing just two years and then drawing on all relevant accounts in their previous life. Although Scorsese's approach to the biographical genre is exactly contrary to that of Penn's it works somehow. You may say that Wolf struggles to be important because sentimentality and emotion are never quite displayed. But what is actually happening is Scorsese has shown us the life of Jordan Belfort with vigour and zeal and simply allowed us to draw our own conclusions regarding its value.  

Whist nowhere near as poised and smooth as his previous film, Hugo, nor providing the same level of insight - it is equally memorable and 100% quoteable. Demandingly original, it leaves a trail of streamers, strippers and corporate envy  in its wake. 


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