Does Leonardo DiCaprio even know what a bad film is now? Many will argue that last year’s The Great Gatsby wasn’t up to much, though I liked it myself. What couldn’t be argued was DiCaprio’s charm and charisma.
Those traits are once again on show in Martin Scorsese’s latest work, based loosely on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort. This ambitious chap had grand ideas to make himself ludicrously rich, and it worked! What follows is years of debauchery, with an addiction to quaaludes and a pervading feeling of imperviousness.
Surrounded by a group that reminded me of the Channel 4 News Team, we see the rise and rise of Belfort. Then the rise. Then some more rising. The film is heavily leans towards showing the excesses and crazy lifestyle. Even Belfort knows we don’t care how the money was made. We don’t see the FBI until the hour and a half mark (bearing in mind this is a bum numbing 3 hours long) and even then aren’t too many scenes involving them. I don’t buy that Scorsese is glamorising stealing money and drug taking, but I do feel that he has indulged too much.
In some regard I understand why, as DiCaprio is mesmerisingly reprehensible and depraved. Belfort is at times utterly unhinged and DiCaprio throws himself in completely. A tripped out crawl from a front door to his Lamborghini, and scenes involving him snorting cocaine from various…crevices…might leave those who only remember the young chap from Titanic in shock.
So DiCarpio is awesome. I hope I’ve made that clear. But there are two others I need to mention. “Jonah Hill – Academy Award Nominee” is not something I thought I’d have seen when watching Superbad. But here we are watching him match DiCaprio in scenes of their characters high as kites (and worse).
Then there is Dujardin. Last year I compared Gatsby to Valentin, and here they are together. For me this is quite simply a joy, with their charming smiles hiding their duplicity. They don’t trust each other, both know it, and it makes for a great back and forth. I could watch these two together all day.
A day is how long it felt I was sat down for though. Sure, watching these hedonistic exploits is great fun but after it while it started to merge into a single blur of coke and ass. Half hour cut out in the middle and some tighter story telling could have made this film just as effective but far more bearable.
Much like another embellished true story this year, American Hustle, there are great performances and I enjoyed much of it, but The Wolf of Wall Street falls into the same trap of not knowing when to stop. But, it is a better film overall, with Scorsese in fine form after the rather different Hugo and DiCaprio just being so damn good. If you can put up with the running time you’re in for a treat. But it’s this very thing which prevents it from hitting the heights that I’d been led to believe.