Frances Winston feels that the latest offering from Martin Scorsese ensures its success by featuring Leonardo Di Caprio as its lead actor.
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, P. J. Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Joanna Lumley.
This lands on our shores with a Golden Globe winning performance from Leonardo DiCaprio under its belt, which will surely help bolster interest (as if that was needed). However, the fact that he won in the musical or comedy section is rather misleading I feel, as while there are plenty of laughs here, at heart this is a drama. Of course even without the award, the baby-faced Thesp has a multitude of fans, and so would manage to draw a crowd. Add Scorsese’s name to the mix and you pretty much have a sure fire hit.
Based on the book of the same name by the real life Jordan Belfort (portrayed here by DiCaprio) this doesn’t announce it’s origins in truth like so many films of this type – possibly because pretty much everybody’s name has been changed, or possibly because the antics of the protagonists are so outlandish that they thought no one would believe that this was fact.
Either way, this charts Belfort’s rise from Junior Stockbroker to the head of his own brokerage firm raking in tens of millions a year. This allows him to fund a lavish lifestyle with drugs and alcohol featuring heavily – particularly Quaaludes. However, despite a daily narcotic intake that would probably floor a herd of elephants, Jordan remains high functioning, and the company continues to expand. Since all their dealings are illegal though, it is only a matter of time before they fall under the FBI’s radar, and Jordan and his business partners find themselves ducking and diving as they try to hide money in Swiss accounts and evade justice for illegal trading.
Of course – since this is a true story – we all know that Jordan did indeed eventually go to jail for his crimes. Prior to his downfall however, he very much lived the American dream. He had the houses, the yacht, the chopper, the cars, the trophy wife – unfortunately this was all funded by the people he ripped off, which makes it hard to feel any sympathy for him.
DiCaprio gives a great performance as Jordan, but at his heart the character is narcissistic, misogynistic, greedy and without conscience making him rather unlikeable. Indeed you are somewhat glad when he gets his comeuppance. Many of the laughs in this movie involve he and his colleague’s phenomenal drugs consumption, as none of them are very interesting when they are not actually high. There is no doubt that these guys had great fun during their boom years, but the sheer decadence and wastefulness they engage in is difficult to watch since we all know the ripple effect of their deceit (and those like them) in the grand scheme of things.
Scorsese could have made this a social commentary that showed the effect of Jordan’s fraud in the bigger picture, but the victims of his crimes barely get a mention here. Instead it is almost as if he has chosen to celebrate Jordan’s high flying lifestyle. If you can overlook that though, this is a really fun watch. It is fast-paced and energetic with some inspired casting choices. The editing is snappy and the soundtrack moves things along nicely. It may appear OTT, but apparently they didn’t take that much licence with actual events, which makes it an even more fascinating watch.
DiCaprio faces some tough competition for the best actor gong at the Oscars, but there is no denying he is amazing here and this movie is definitely worth the price of admission. Just make sure you use the bathroom before it starts though as, at almost three hours long, it is a marathon and not a sprint.
In cinemas now