The film has been surrounding in much controversy, ranging from complaints by animal rights groups to hecklers at film screenings, but the modern day crime epic has seen excellent returns at the box office, as well as five Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe win for leading man DiCaprio for his portrayal of Belfort.
Jordan Belfort’s real life tale is your modern day rags to riches story. From humble beginnings, to an obscene amount of wealth in a matter of a few years; Scorsese, not known for his subtlety, has produced a work of unruly excessive that perfectly encapsulates the men he is trying to portray.
Full of sex, drugs, and more sex, The Wolf of Wall Street is an over-the-top extravaganza of worldly proportions. Not for the faint hearted, this is a ballsy film by a director who is not afraid to go in all guns blazing.
Di Caprio’s portrayal of the former owner of Stratton Oakmont was not only the performance of his career, but was something that we have not seen the likes of before from the Oscar nominee. Edgy, yet extremely flamboyant, you have never seen him with so much energy before, and never have you hated a DiCaprio character so much – unless Titanic was not your sort of thing. The chemistry with on screen wife Margot Robbie, who plays Naomi Lapaglia, was electrifying, whilst Jonah Hill, who has gained an Oscar nomination for his role, showed his versatility as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s friend and partner in crime.
Much has been made of Scorsese’s portrayal, but It seems a rather cheap criticism to suggest it was a poor choice to overlook the victims of Belfort’s crimes. This is a tale of mass greed told through the eyes of its chief orchestrator, Belfort himself. This is his story, and his point of view. He did not feel sympathy for his victims, but at the same time as viewers, we certainly have no sympathy for him. The self-made millionaire is not a character to be liked, in fact, he is someone to be pitied. For as much as it is a story of extreme wealth, it is also one of self-implosion; he was a man with many inner demons demonstrated superbly by DiCaprio.
Its only real criticism should be in terms of length. Several scenes did seem to drag on for too long, however in the the directors defense, its over-done nature did capture the spirit of the film: excess, and a lot of it.
Goodfellas comparisons are inevitable, and although it does not quite reach the same levels as the mobster classic, it is an exceptional piece of film making which is not just extremely engaging, but very funny.