Scorsese’s latest biopic, The Wolf of Wall Street, is an intimidating, three-hour long beast which grips you in its jaws, drags you into a pitch-black cave and refuses to let go until it’s much too late.
The film features a confident, awards-hungry performance from Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a man with an insatiable appetite for sex, drugs and money (or “fun coupons”, as he calls them). Starring alongside DiCaprio is Jonah Hill, who continues to impress with his capability in more dramatic roles. He is entirely worthy of his second Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Belfort’s right-hand-man, Donnie Azoff.
Surprisingly, for a film that’s a whole three hours in length, there is no slow build-up. We’re thrust headfirst into Belfort’s life, as he goes about making and then blowing his millions in various questionable ways. The manic environment at Stratton Oakmont, Belfort’s infamous penny-stock brokerage, often resembles the inside of a cramped monkey cage; complete with the alpha-male and his gang of screaming, chest-thumping primates. This hyper-masculine and money-drenched environment often leads to some of the film’s funnier scenes, with the gang participating in increasingly bizarre and quite ridiculous displays of excess, such as dwarf tossing and raunchy office parties.
Many will no doubt argue that the film glorifies the debauched lifestyle of Jordan Belfort. Were it not for the final thirty minutes, it’d be hard to disagree. The vast majority of the film is two hours and thirty minutes of pure escapism, as Scorsese invites us all to live vicariously through Belfort and his cohorts. However, the final thirty minutes are like an icy wave that crashes through the silver-screen and washes the audience up on the bleak shores of reality. You suddenly realise you’ve been laughing the entire time; willingly going along for a ride, led by a manipulative, selfish man who fucks hookers, extorts people, takes drugs and has absolutely no regard for his wife and kids.
The Wolf of Wall Street is no celebration of masculinity. In fact, Scorsese’s latest film is an exquisitely dark fable, teaching us all what a pathetic example of a man Jordan Belfort really is.
In three words: Depraved, Hilarious, Fascinating
Why? Jonah Hill’s star persona. Roles as overweight, awkward teenagers, such as his performance in Superbad, shot Hill into the limelight. Rather than allowing himself to become typecast, he has instead been able to completely transform into an Academy Award nominated dramatic actor.
Why? Representation of masculinity. Both films have the same director and are set within the same city. However, Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle is poor, frustrated and unsuccessful with women – the complete opposite of Jordan Belfort.
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