‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Breathtaking entertainment from Scorsese & DiCaprio; all the while a savage indictment of American capitalism.

I’m Scorsesean by religion, so I’m coming into this thing with a slanted viewpoint. There’s very little the man can do that I won’t respond to positively, and his collaborations with Leonardo Di Caprio have been universally stunning. If you’re not inside the tent, you may not enjoy The Wolf of Wall Street, but if that’s the case, I just feel sorry for you.

This is a brilliant film.

These are the very worst people alive. Say what you will about the questionably morals of the gangsters of GoodFellas, at least they had some kind of code of honour. These pricks are just freewheeling and out of control, living the most despicable, degraded lives imaginable with no regard for anyone or anything. The genius of it, or at least part of the genius of it is that while Scorsese’s gangster films (like most films of that genre) are metaphors, critiques of American capitalism, this film doesn’t have to exist in the world of metaphor. It’s imbued with the same energy and dark, dark humour of GoodFellas and Casino, but rather than examine the characters and settings as a microcosm of American excess, it is the quintessence of American excess. The indulgence depicted here, from the office debauchery to the level of excess Belfort and his crew undertook en route to and while in Las Vegas is rivaled by nothing short of Caligula, or The 120 Days of Sodom – and this is the toned-down version of same.

The final shot of this film, and there’s no spoiler alert here, is one of a captivated audience. It reminded me of the final shots of Robert Redford’s Quiz Show, that in the aftermath of the scandals that film depicts, the audience is still captivated – they’re watching the money (fun fact: Martin Scorsese acted in that film, I think that line, “They’re watching the money” was spoken by him…). The same can be said for The Wolf of Wall Street, where at the end the audience, by proxy we, are captivated and have apparently learnt nothing, despite the ’87 crash, the 2008 GFC, the insanity of Jordan Belfort and his cronies depicted herein. In a moment of sharp, devastatingly harsh and pointed satire, we all just got called idiots. It’s brilliant.

It’s electric, fascinating, frightening and frequently hilarious, and has Di Caprio at his absolute best playing off the ever impressive Jonah Hill. I couldn’t figure out where I’d seen Margot Robbie before, and it turns out she used to be on Neighbours. She puts on a flawless Brooklyn accent and entirely holds her own in this in a raw, confident performance. Movie star on the rise. Who knew?

This brilliant three hour opus is everything you could possibly want from a film’s meditation on the pratfalls of modern American aspirations. To see Martin Scorsese make something so good with what by all accounts is such comparative ease, is a giddy high unlike any other.

Also, I can live or die without this winning awards or people not enjoying it, to each their own. But I say with all seriousness, anyone who sees this film and believes the insane critique that they’re glamourising this lifestyle, or making heroes out of these people, honestly, you clearly have ZERO idea what you’re talking about, have missed the point entirely and should just go back to watching Adam Sandler movies. We have nothing to talk about here.

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