UK Release: January 17th 2014
Leonardo DiCaprio’s fifth film with Martin Scorsese ‘THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’, is based on the autobiographical novel of the same title about its the life of its author Jordan Belfort, and his hedonistic life being a Wall Street trader in the 1980’s. Clocking in at three hours (directors cut expected to be an hour longer), this is one of Scorsese’s longest films. In fact there was a big issue about the US distributors of Paramount wanting to release this with a running time of that length (since it means less showings in cinemas during the day, hindering its box office potential), and also the fact that if the film would make the Academy deadline for Oscar consideration. Savage cuts were made (Scorsese’s regular editor Thelma Schoonmaker doing a excellent job here – particularly with a car scene, which you will understand when watching) to make it fit just under three hours (the biggest running time a studio would release a film in cinema, during the current industry market).
The core content of the film has roots to adult film making which arguably is never released today. There is an utterly misogynistic and satirical nature to it which is usually seen with films in the 1990’s. Presented with (at times breaking the fourth wall) narration from DiCaprio, the editation and general contexts and plot expositions are presented very in your face. Going back to describing its core as misogynistic, there will be feminist who will find this film offensive. Women (including Jordan’s wife played by Margot Robbie), hardly register other than that of them ether lusting in awe of the brokers themselves pissing in buckets, or act as pawns for the mass orgies (something I have never seen Scorsese do), which I personally thought you could see cut, however I do get the central idea of the running time reflecting the ‘greed is access’ believe of the main characters. While there is a strong case to be made on this, I also feel as if that the audience are not ‘’getting’’ the film and what its actually meaning, so perhaps your personal experience with bad taste satire might help understand it a bit better. Saying that though a lot of critics who hate the film and rant about it might be interpreting it a lot better then what they are thinking and perhaps proves a positive point of the film itself.
My case in point?
Well its more the fact that the film is designed for you to rant out, the characters (who are in a position of high power) are constantly looking down at you (even in Leo’s narration), presented like a big ‘Fuck You’, as none of these character on screen are people you really connect to, nor like. They never really get much of a comeuppance with what they do and have done, and it constantly reminds you of that. But that is the point of the film, you are meant to disagree with it and rant about it (or even too it), the whole social context is the fact that people in power in the real work (politicians one of the many hate figures by the general public) do get away with crimes like this. One example can be the politician’s expenses scandal; there was no comeuppance with their actions. The whole satire part is the idea that it asks the audience if you were in there position would you do the same thing. This is evident with the Kyle Chandler FBI task force and maybe being temped in going into this life of male overbearing power.
Performance wise DiCaprio (also producer with his Appian Way company) is wonderful, he is almost in every scene. I can’t see him winning the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar thought, I believe he will win it in later life, when his career is coming towards its twilight years (it’s happened several times before – even to Scorsese for ‘Best Picture’). Jon Bernthal (it’s about time he gets more work), Jonah Hill (wonderful make up and synergy here) Joanne Lumley, Jean Dujardin (charming as ever) and Jon Favreau round of the cast beautifully, will elegant performances (even Matthew McConaughey for five minutes as well).
Again the theme of the rich and powerful getting away with it is a context running through some of the other ‘Best Picture’ nominated films this year. This idea is in ‘American Hustle’ and even as an element in ’12 Years A Slave’, I will not divulge into anything more than that for risk of spoilers. There are also elements of the fantasy like visage to its cinematography and effects of the film which can be seen in ‘The Aviator’, and the whole sensibility of ‘Goodfellas’ echoes throughout. The editation at times also losses some continuity (again this is down to reaching the Academy voting deadline).
Either way this is very much a film, however you read it, you will end up doing the same thing – and that is ranting about it. This is certainly Scorsese back adult film making which isn’t seen anymore, and it’s also something which could very well carve its way into pop culture.