Greed is Good
By Adam Sturrock
The Wolf of Wallstreet (2013/14)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Terence Winter and Jordan Belford (book)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
By now, you must be aware of Leonardo’s struggle to attain an Oscar gong. He is one of the few actors to have played a part in such acclaimed films such as Django Unchained and Titanic without receiving an award for his efforts. Again Leo teams up with old pal, Scorsese at his latest attempt in the sleazefest (and I mean in a good way) that is The Wolf of Wallstreet, adapted from Jordan Belford’s book.
This romp through sex, drugs and excess is almost overwhelming at times as this film is more or less 3/4s comprised of parties and drug inhibition- almost too much. Lasting almost three hours in length you may find yourself with a numb backside but this black comedy can lead to frequent burst of doubled-over laughing. Based around the late 80s and 90s we see a naive Jordan Belford (played by DiCaprio) become a corrupt banking magnate alongside his cohort, Donnie Azoff (Hill). Fellow Nominee, Mathew McConaughey makes the time for a show-stealing, hilarious cameo in the beginning of the film as Belford’s boss which counts as one of the best scenes of the entire film- if you have seen the film trailer you may have been given a glimpse into what this scene contains.
This film is unashamedly about the vices of greed and is not directed towards those with a sensitive disposition, it is not coy when describing the details of events that unfolded. One scene in particular has offended a Disability rights group when using an offensive term in the film to describe Belford’s inebriation. Some scenes are fantastical and almost too crazy to make up; this includes Belford’s yacht being capsized by a rogue wave and in another, the corrupt banking firm Stratton Oakmond holding midget throwing competitions. DiCaprio, unsurprisingly shows more of his acting depth and comedic timing throughout the film, noting a failed infomercial that bears testiment to how adaptable he is.
At no point are we given a reason for Belford to be liked but he charmingly guides us through his lifestyle; we as an audience want to see fantastic highs and his crushing lows, we are seen as a confident as he reveals the behind the scenes of his rags to riches story. Counting Gordon Gecko as possibly one of the inspirations for his lifestyle, to quote him: “Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good” which in this current economic climate, is blaming fiscal irresponsibility by Wall Street, further baffles why this anti-hero is looked up to in such esteem. A slight pang of sympathy is felt when Jordan is inevitably investigated by the FBI. Without Leonardo’s performance, possibly, the film may not be nominated for an Oscar.
Brilliantly directed by Scorsese, this film is too brash to take itself seriously and needed Leo’s humanity to smooth over the rough patches. Not that Jordan is a boy scout- not at all- he is often depicted as a drug taking, misogynistic, cheating, ass hole but is proof of the pitfalls of not knowing what to do with millions of Dollars.
The Wolf of Wallstreet may not be seen as nuanced or subtle in any way shape or form, but with a number of strong performances including from DiCaprio and Hill, this may possibly be one of the front runners for the Best Actor Oscar; will it happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.