Comedy is not normally something I would associate with Martin Scorsese or with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yet thats exactly what they set to bring us in this black comedy based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort.
Taking a job as a stockbroker in 1987 Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio) takes his first step in the immoral world of Wall Street and begins conning many people out of their money as he gets filth rich off their money and indulging in a world of cocaine, prostitutes and excess. However the party can’t last forever and soon Belfort’s dodgy dealings start catching up with him.
The Wolf of Wall Street does not open quietly, with Belfort indulging in dwarf tossing, receiving oral sex in a car and taking drugs out of a prostitute’s bum. Subtle it is not, and thank god for that. Scorsese pulls you into Belfort’s world of excess and you can’t help but be swept away by it all, no matter how obscene it all gets. For most of its running time the film is a brillant, almost slapstick comedy with DiCaprio’s Belfort at the dispicable centre of the action.
I was surprised at how hilarious DiCaprio was. I know he’s a great actor but I didn’t know he how funny he was or what a great phsyical performer he is. My favourite scene was when Belfort-incapacitated by drugs and lying on the ground of his country club tries to make his way to his car outside. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on film in ages.
Although DiCaprio is the performance everyone will be talking about he is also surrounded by a great supporting cast. Standouts include Jonah Hill as a partner in Belfort’s firm Donnie Azoff (complete with comedy false teeth), and newcomer Margot Robbie also makes a memerable apperance as Belfort’s second wife Naomi and not just because of her now infamous full frontal scene. There is also a great cameo from Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna, Belfort’s former boss and mentor who is suitable bonkers with his chest pounding and advise to start taking drugs during the day, among other ‘interesting’ advise to relax.
Although the movie is at heart a black comedy the tone changes gear towards the last third of the film as the consquences of Belfort’s actions catch up with him, and his already messed up relationship with his wife falls spectacularly apart.
If theres any negatives to this film its that there is no one to root for in this film and there’s no moral to take from it (unless ‘if you’re rich you can get away with anything’ counts as a moral ) but Scorsese has dealt with many anti-heros before and by casting the naturally charismatic DiCaprio in the lead role you can’t help but get swept away by it all. His casting is vital to the movie as you need to believe that he could con so many people and be so blindly admired and followed by his collegaues.
Some viewers may feel that the film is glorfiying Belfort’s actions, especially as his victims do not get much of a voice in this film, although I find it hard to believe anyone would see this movie and want to emulate him. But maybe thats just me. Others may find that Belfort’s success after his conviction being a motivational speaker and writing his memoirs a bitter pill to swallow considering the lives he’s ruined. However in Scorese and Dicaprio’s hands you can’t help but be engaged in the story of Belfort, even if you are rooting for him to get his comeuppance too.
Rating 4.5/5 -Obscene, excessive and brilliant, Scorese and DiCaprio once again show why they are a team to be reckoned with.