A brief note on WOLF OF WALL STREET (English; 2013)
I must confess this film left me a bit cold, at least insofar as it wasn’t simply a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to try and win an Oscar. Leo is pretty darn good as Jordan Belfort, the self-made millionaire stockbroker who never saw a corner he couldn’t cut, playing him with just the right amount of obnoxiousness and arriviste air, but the film seemed indulgent, and tonally inconsistent. At times farce, comedy, and grim commentary on America’s (and perhaps the world’s) cult of money, the film is littered with brilliant moments — a couple of DiCaprio’s addresses on the Stratton Oakmont floor stand out — but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. For that reason, it will be worth re-visiting in bits and pieces, on DVD.
But there is something Scorsese gets right, that no other such film does, certainly not in so comprehensive a way. Other films document a fall from grace caused by hubris, without disturbing the essential glamor of the central character. Scorsese and DiCaprio don’t take this route, and the film is relentless in showing the degradation to which Belfort’s character sinks (the final drug overdose; the sequence where DiCaprio gets violent with his wife, are cases in point). The easy titillation of Belfort’s enjoyment of his wealth isn’t where this film stops; it’s where it starts to get interesting. It ends up some editing away from greatness.