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The glory of excess

Stockbroker’s memoir is an unflinching portrayal of greed

Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a raw and riveting performance in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Leonardo DiCaprio delivers a raw and riveting performance in The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Certified: 18
Duration: 179 minutes
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, Christine Ebersole, Shea Whigham
KRS release

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of his swindling days on the stockbroker market and all the subsequent partying that came with it.

It is a whirlwind of a movie that is drunk on its own hubris. Martin Scorsese has delivered an unflinching picture of greed, lust, in-your-face attitude and a gutsy middle finger to the world by a generation that was brought up to make money.

It’s a strong picture that does not shirk away from anything

The film marks the fifth collaboration between Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, after Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006) and Shutter Island (2010). This relationship almost mirrors the one the director had built with Robert De Niro – the duo teamed up on eight films.

It is 1980. Belfort’s (DiCaprio) boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), has taught him quite a few things, including tricks on how to make money and the perks that come with the job. Then there is the market crash and Hanna closed down his firm.

Jordan is married to Teresa (Cristin Miliot) and needs to find alternative means to support himself financially. He thus tries his luck in the field of selling penny stocks and soon success is trailing.

Joining him in his venture is Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) who is dead hungry to be overtly rich.

Jordan eventually decides to open up his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. Among others, he employs drug dealers, including Bard (Jon Bernthal), as his sales staff. He is hugely successful and is soon moving from selling to common investors to the richer ones. The scam is that they will be buying stock that will in all probability never make any profits.

Heady success brings with it drug addiction, a new woman (Margot Robbie) and outrageous parties. Meanwhile, the FBI get him on their radar and start investigating him. This is where a tug-of-war between the agency and Jordan starts.

Scorsese has thankfully enough delivered a film that is not afraid to get its hands dirty. I am sure that this daring movie is not the kind of film that most Academy Award voters usually embrace, however, the film deserved to be among the nominees. It’s a daring morality tale that at times reads like a Bugs Bunny cartoon on Quaaludes!

The state of being filthy rich turns Jordan and his gang into an almost unstable group who are always on the search for the next fix in order to make use of their money.

It is shocking to see in how starved and frenzied they go about this task, making us reflect on how low and base a man can become.

Jordan is rich and he needs to prove it; he does it by snorting everything he can, while his ego inflates to a huge proportions.

Scorsese had made the classic Goodfellas (1990) and Casino (1995), movies that depicted criminals in overdrive but who, somehow or other, were admirable in their demented twists. The director does not give these brokers that sheen; instead, he wants us to see these scammers as being simply sharks wallowing in a frenzy off the monies made from investors’ cash.

DiCaprio once again sheds the Titanic image and delivers a raw, kick-below-the-belt and riveting performance. He breaks the fourth wall in his bid to sell the American Dream to his audience.

Hill is demented as he complements DiCaprio in this hedonistic picture.

Scorsese almost directs this film with a sense of Judd Apatow improvisations and flair to shock. It’s a strong picture that does not shirk away from anything and shows us that the times after Gordon Gekko’s Wall Street would have probably made even him blush.

The result is a truly spectacular picture of excess and madness. A must-see film.

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