Misogynistic, homophobic, a little bit racist, heightist, sexist, uber pro-consumerism, violent, abusive, scandalous, a significant put down to the American working classes, at times almost soft porn and certainly not in the least sympathetic to any of its female characters.
What’s not to like about The Wolf of Wall Street?
Marti Scorsese has either taken leave of his senses or decided that there’s a time and a place to just let rip and have a bit of good old fashioned fun.
Mark Kermode certainly doesn’t agree. He spluttered all ‘Old Liberal’ into his green tea as he let rip in his Guardian review that this was essentially overlong, vacuous sensationalism.
I couldn’t agree less. It’s an absolute blast from frame #1 to frame #4,475.
Clocking in at 179 minutes you might expect this to be turgid and variably paced, but ace veteran editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, makes sure it keeps cracking along.
It’s Scarface meets the Goodfellas in an extended Bacchanalian orgy of sex and drug-taking that Joanna Lumley must have mischievously approved of, given her amusing cameo role.
Has DiCaprio ever been better?
Well, he was very good in The Departed, Revolutionary Road and The Aviator but this is surely his greatest (fourth time Oscar nominated) role in which he dominates the screen with a highly enjoyable supporting performance by Jonah Hill.
The tale is about a stockbroker, DiCaprio as real life trader Jordan Belford, who begins his career on the day of the 80’s Wall Street Crash and earns his nickname, and the movie’s title, soon after in a Forbes Magazine article when the journalist profiling him names him such for his outrageous duping of America’s working classes (“Postmen, why are they always postmen.?”) selling them worthless penny shares on the promise of unimaginable wealth.
Far from exposing him, as the journalist hoped, it opens a floodgate of demand, not just from investors but from wannabe stockbrokers too.
The movie is electrifyingly shot and edited. DiCaprio is a man possessed and Scorsese is on absolute fire with a hugely beefed up Greek Chorus of baying and howling trading floor macho-men whooping and cheering every one of his (Tom Cruise in Magnolia-like) pep talks, come training sessions. (Complete with naked brass bands, dwarf throwing competitions, female head shaving, orgies, and drugs aplenty.)
Nudity is never far away. All of it female and most of it full frontal, including that of DiCaprio’s Trophy second-wife, New Yorker Naomi , bravely played by long time “Neighbours” cast member Margot Robbie who really couldn’t have made much more of a career leap. She’s great.
At 71 Scorsese has never had more fun.
And the movie, throwaway as it is in many respects – it has no ‘message as such ‘other than ‘this is bad’ – takes its place near the top of his ‘best of’ CV, alongside the Departed, Cape Fear, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Not because it has the sheer weight of these incredible movies but because it is made by a master in total control of his work.
He ekes out a horrible, unsympathetic but spellbinding performance from one of Hollywood’s most starry actors. This is something for DiCaprio to be proud of. Indeed, he may yet pick up his first best actor award at the Koodak Cinema in March (but, of course, there’s Christian Bale and Mtthew McConnachie to contend with).
Sadly, I think Scorsese will have to settle for an outrageous ninth losing nomination as best director as he graciously applauds a fellow director (this time Steve McQueen) the same night.
That’s as maybe. Put your PC sensitivities to one side for 179 minutes and just enjoy the ride.
It’s an absolute blast.