Is the movie really just a dark comedy about Wall Street brokers, or is it a reflection on the capitalist beast in all of us?
Jordan Belfort is a drug addict. Forget the cocaine and Quaaludes; money is his real addiction. On his first day as a certified stockbroker, Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) finds himself jobless after the stock market crash of 1987. But after discovering the opportunity in trading penny stocks, Belfort starts a trading firm that earns itself the reputation for selling everything, including his principles.
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on real life stockbroker Jordan Belfort whose well-documented rise and fall as a Wall Street trader has made him into a flesh-and-blood Gordon Gekko. But while the film’s story is admittedly familiar, director Martin Scorsese’s depiction of Wall Street debauchery is as scandalous and vivid as we’ve ever seen it.
The Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t waste time on the petty intricacies of the business itself; instead, it focuses on the high-rolling lifestyle of guys on Wall Street who are always hungry for more. It’s a world of drugs, sex and extravagance. But what starts off as an entertaining joyride with the young and wealthy ultimately becomes a predictable crash into the pits of Wall Street.
Director Martin Scorsese is once again reunited with male muse Leonardo DiCaprio, and the result is as stylishly flamboyant as an actor like DiCaprio manages to make it. For Scorsese, the executives and brokers of Wall Street are the new brand of criminal. But instead of guns and ammunition, these gangsters are armed with something more dangerous – our own money.
From Ambitious to Gluttonous
Since the film’s release in the United States, Scorsese has been openly criticized for championing the amoral actions of the real wolves of Wall Street. Scorsese’s fascination with the criminal mind does lend itself to a fair amount of romanticism, which makes him an easy target for critics. But to claim that his film endorses the criminal activity of Belfort and his crew oversimplifies the picture that The Wolf of Wall Street tries to paint.
Watch the trailer for the film here:
The Criminal Code
When it comes down to it, we all have a little bit of Belfort in our blood. We are citizens of a society defined by its finances, and we are all just as addicted to the high of money. Belfort simply had the gall to make a career out of it. Despite our noblest intentions and most unyielding principles, the film succeeds in provoking our fantasies to be like Belfort if only for a split, vulnerable, second.
While previous Scorsese anti-heroes have held themselves to a certain code, the wolves of Wall Street are driven by little more than the basic capitalist desire to amass wealth, making them far more despicable than Scorsese’s most fiendish villains. But while it’s easy to villainize Belfort and his conspiring brokers, it’s difficult not to lust over the same materialistic extravagances afforded by their lifestyle.
The Wolf of Wall Street admittedly lacks complexity. After all the sharp dialogue and highly-stylized scenes are pushed aside, there’s very little else to mine out of the film’s story, characters and themes. While this may end up troubling audiences who have come to expect more from a filmmaker like Scorsese, it’s also a telling statement on the simplicity of greed.
Maybe that’s exactly Scorsese’s point. Greed isn’t complicated. Instead, it is consuming, overwhelming and, sadly, entirely human. The Wolf of Wall Street is the kind of film that leaves an audience entertained, but inevitably hollow. But it’s also the kind of movie that succeeds by doing just that.
I dare you to begin to watch The Wolf of Wall Street and not finish it. Seriously. If you even glimpse this masterwork featuring the dream team of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio AND you can actually turn the player off, you’ll be the only person in the entire human race to do so. Let me give you 10 reasons why Forex Traders should watch:
1) The cast, obviously. In their fifth film together, Scorsese gets such a maxed-out performance from Leonardo DiCaprio that we’re all agog why he didn’t snag the Oscar for this. (He didn’t. He had to wait to eat raw liver in The Revenant, who knew?)
2) The direction: Scorsese gets the biggest, wildest performance from this naturally gifted actor. Leo is not only famous for model girlfriends and saving the environment. He can also play a young stock broker intimidated by Matthew McConaughey to a guy who can’t drag his drugged-out self into his own gull-wing sports car. It’s a masterful performance. Watch and wonder.
3) The direction 2: Scorsese’s use of the camera (at one point, someone’s back is pressed against it, at another it’s catching a parade of party girls and a marching band in the stock broker’s office) is perfect. It’s like Scorsese is turning our heads manually.
4) Superior supporting players include Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Jon Favreau, Joanna Lumley, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin and more. All of them match DiCaprio. And sometimes they’re better.
5) The script! Terence Winter, who wrote for The Sopranos, adapted the true life tale of Jordan Belfort, the Wall Street trader who made excess a by-word in the industry. This script has Leo breaking the fourth wall (talking to the camera), speaking directly to the audience, and has some of the best dialogue you’ll ever hear. Ever. “I don’t want to die sober!” is only one example.
6) It’s a moral tale: while there is a massive amount of hysterical fun in here, one that rivals the pure nutsiness of, say, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, this is a cautionary tale. Kids, watch and laugh but don’t do this.
7) The editing: You don’t notice great editing, but this film is cut into bits of brilliance. Working with his longstanding collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker, the Wolf of Wall Street never lets you spend just enough time in each scene before you’re grabbed and pushed on through the story. Schoonmaker, who has won three Oscars, is a genius.
8) The cameos: New Yorkers immediately recognise Fran Lebowitz, one of the best comic writers of her generation, as the Honorary Samantha Stogel towards the film’s end. There’s Steve Buscemi, Jordan Belfort and Scorsese (in a voiceover) too.
9) The music: Songs you won’t have heard by artists like Eartha Kitt, Devo and Ahmad Jamal Trio and tracks you should know like Ian Dury’s Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick, Movin’ Out by Billy Joel and Insane in the Brain by Cypress Hill, all topped off with Alain Toussaint’s classic Cast Your Fate To The Wind, hugely popular in America in the 1960s. This soundtrack is a whole nother trip in itself.
10) The Wolf of Wall Street was nominated for 5 Oscars and the best films get nommed but hardly ever win. (That’s an industry secret right there.) So start watching it now on PictureBox. You can thank me now or later. I don’t mind.
This post was last modified on March 3, 2019 11:54 am