It is no secret that Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have a positive working relationship. The two have collaborated together on projects throughout the 2000’s including: Gangs of New York, The Departed, Shutter Island and The Aviator. All of these films have had significant success in the Box Office but all have one common thread: they are great films, but when Oscars are considered, DiCaprio has always been denied the prize.
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on true events and follows the highs and lows of a successful stock trader named Jordan Belfort. Once Jordan is introduced to the world of stocks, he is instantly hooked on the thrill of the job, and hooked too, to the highs he uses to keep him performing as a successful stock trader. This includes cocktails of drugs, alcoholic beverages around the clock and an appetite for woman so strong that it could not be solved by castration. One scene in particular cemented my distaste for this film; during the opening scene when Belfort was narrating the beginning of his story, there is a shot of him snorting cocaine off a woman’s behind. To paint a picture of the scene, the shot begins with a still shot of the woman’s behind, perfectly framed. This is where Belfort mentions he drinks like fish and gambles like a degenerate and enjoys f**king hookers. I get that Scorsese attempted to reveal the reality of the film by showing scenes like this. However, this scene was one of many to appear in the film that suggested that DiCaprio and Scorsese had collaborated to produce a haze a smut, far beyond the demands of a realistic portrayal.
Within The Wolf of Wall Street huge credit must go to the supporting cast. The portrayal of egotistical Wall Street types by Matthew McConaughey and Jonah Hill, fills the running time of 180 minutes with entertaining and interesting anecdotes. McConaughey’s character is called Mark Hanna, and I’m disappointed he was not given a bigger role in the film. In one scene where he met with DiCaprio for breakfast, he was otherworldly assertive. I forgot that DiCaprio was even in room because of the power of his presence. Hanna spoke with such pace, and asserted his knowledge so comprehensively that he covered the industry of stocks and then went all the way, and offered masturbation advice. The role of Jonah Hill is also one to be admired in Wolf of Wall Street. He plays Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s partner in crime and right hand man, for the duration of the film. In typical Jonah Hill fashion, one can count on humour and awkward moments that radiate with human expression. This comes with Jonah’s comedic talents as well as his post-Moneyball developments.
From a technical perspective, The Wolf of Wall Street has very few issues. One blanket that Scoresese managed to pull over my eyes (but I shouldn’t have been surprised) was the fact that he made intentional continuity errors in scenes following drug use. I was also very impressed with a scene where DiCaprio drove his vehicle after his regular use of the prescription drug Quaaludes. The film showed him attempting to get into his car like a nullified piece of flesh. The scene was well narrated as he contrasted the lack of fine motor skills with his daughter’s. The shots used allowed DiCaprio to battle with the frustration paralysis engendered, while attempting to drive under the influence of the expired illicit substances.
With a film collaboration between DiCaprio and Scoresese, audiences are always guaranteed an engaging flick and in the case of The Wolf of Wall Street they have done it again. It is disappointing, though, to see this tag team fall short of greatness yet again, as the film clearly does not fulfil the Academy’s requirement for a golden statuette to be handed to DiCaprio. What lets it down is its overly Hollywood feel with regards to sexual content; these scenes seemed overused and at times lacked relevance to the story. However, Wolf of Wall Street sports a strong supporting cast and the brilliant technical feel props it up, to make it the story that it is.