THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Movie Review
For an auteur to deliver work of this magnitude after forty six years of making films, certainly deserves much to be said. Martin Scorsese doesn’t have anything he needs to prove but that hasn’t stopped him from creating one of his most passionate and innovative motion pictures in well over a decade and reminds us why his capabilities should never be underestimated. The Wolf Of Wall Street is not only a return to the daring form of risk-taking efforts like After Hours or The King Of Comedy, there’s also the sophistication of Goodfellas thrown in for good measure.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives an exhilarating performance as Jordan Belfort, an ambitious and relentless opportunist that discovers his calling during a chance meeting with an unorthodox mentor, courtesy of a brief but impressively strong performance by Matthew McConaughey. Belfort’s timing couldn’t be more disastrously circumstantial as it happens to collide with the infamous Black Monday Crash of 1987. A minor inconvenience in Belfort’s perception wouldn’t stand in the way of opportunity in the form of a penny stocks operation ripe for his manipulative assault. As his aspirations levitate him above his obstacles, his taste for luxury and leisure are mere fuel for the fire as his monstrous appetite grows. Jonah Hill gives an astoundingly grandiose performance as Donnie Azoff, his newly acquainted partner in crime and dubiously captivates our attention as he breathes life into this reprehensible yet intoxicating character that constantly fires on all cylinders.
Scorsese masterfully draws us into immersion of the fascinatingly depraved mayhem that the Stratton Oakmont alumni indulge in without allowing us breathe from the manic excess for a single moment. Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography is appropriately unpredictable and punctuates Terence Winter‘s fiercely monotonous screenplay in a grandiose fashion. Every role big or small is filled with relevant conviction from the stunningly voluptuous Margot Robbie as Belfort’s trophy wife to his short tempered father and CFO, compliments of Rob Reiner. Every moment of rampant debauchery and relentless excess becomes so hypnotic that when Belfort’s crazed cult followers dance to the beat of his mentor’s drum, it helplessly infects us into a hallucinogenic like trance.
Scorsese neither judges nor condemns his characters as their actions make no apologies, yet the reinvention to his approach offers a biting dark humor, allowing us to reflect on both sides of the perversion at hand. What’s perceptively clear through Belfort’s amoral filter are the appropriate cues of misdirection and the credit to decipher the corrupted philosophy that clouds his character’s ambitions. Jordan Belfort is completely removed from questioning his meaning and purpose, which underlines the surreal obscenity that objectifies our senses.
Most prolific directors lose their ambitious edge when staying in the game for too long, yet Scorsese here shows that he’s transcending his craft. One scene in particular, involving quaaludes and motor function gives us one of the most brilliant portrayals of physical comedy that’s ever graced the silver screen. Penance and guilt have long been themes that have been present in Scorsese’s work and here is no exception to the character-driven narrative. There’s no convenient salvation to justify the wrong, we’re being shown what’s capable in all of us in the light of greed. There’s no showing the victims to tug at our heart strings because that’s not the reflection that these characters acknowledged. You can attempt to condemn Scorsese for his character’s sins or you can admire his approach to this extravagant opus. One thing that can’t be denied is the craftsmanship of a masterful film that never loses it’s momentum and never compromises.