Tuesday 11 February 2014

The Wolf Of Wall Street

So we've worked the cotton plantation, conned the cops, lost our riches and searched for long lost sons. We've even been up in space. But now for something completely different. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill star in Martin Scorcese's The Wolf of Wall Street.

Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams of making it big in the city. But in the highly competitive world of broking, and with a new wife to support, he knows he'll have to go hard or go home. Picking up all the tricks of the trade from his successful and completely nutty boss (Matthew McConaughey), Belfort is flying high... Until Black Monday hits, and he finds himself jobless and back at square one. He decides to go from small to big fish, landing a job in a firm that deals in penny stocks. Using his experience he is soon head of a team who are as money-crazed as he is, and willing to do anything, legal or not, if it means making the big bucks. Money, drugs, women, cars, yachts - he has it all in seconds, but it could all be ripped away just as fast if the Wolf doesn't watch it...

Having said it's unlike any of the other Best Picture nominees, there are a few similarities between TWoWS and American Hustle. There's con men, big heaps of cash, and fashion revivals in all their shoulder-padded glory. But what makes TWoWS stand out? It's hardcore, in-your-face, attacks-all-your-senses kind of big. In the first few moments, you're watching di Caprio doing lines of coke off a prostitute's backside, so you can imagine that by the end of the film, a whole three hours later, nothing else will phase you. Sex, booze, drugs, overdoses, and swearing that will make your ears bleed, all becomes much of a muchness!

Although TWoWS stands up to other films in the American Crime Fiction genre, it is actually based on true events. It's shocking to think Mr Belfort survived his time on Wall Street, let alone come out and write two memoirs about the experience. I don't know much about him, but I'm guessing DiCaprio's portrayal must have been pretty spot on, as he's already received a Critic's Choice award and a Golden Globe for his performance. He's hideously cruel and brutally selfish, but his energy and enthusiasm makes it all acceptable. 

As for baby-faced Jonah Hill, how he's matured from his Superbad/Knocked Up days. He's always portrayed such affectionate characters and almost does so in TWoWS as Belfort's right hand man, Donnie - but then, out of the blue, you get thrown a big chunk of crazy (I'd explain what happens when he's faced with the office goldfish, but let's just say he's learnt a trick or two from Ozzy Osbourne...they don't call it a black comedy for nothing). DiCaprio and Hill make a surprisingly good double-act, and they have such a natural bond - I've read that most of their scenes together were improvised. Margot Robbie was also amazing. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen her in more films before, but in her strong and sexy role as Naomi Lapaglia, I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of her in years to come.

Despite being garish in terms of content, the film itself looks absolutely gorgeous and glossy. It's got Scorcese all over it, with cinematic tricks like effortlessly mixing voice-over and straight-to-camera narrative into the filming. He really is, as I've heard many actors describe him, a director who loves all things film. There were shots that made a staircase look like a mountain - then there was literally a tidal wave. Both were as stunning as the other.

When people have asked me what I thought of The Wolf Of Wall Street, I've hesitated. Yes, it was a great looking film with a brilliantly crafted script, but I have to admit that I felt uncomfortable more often than not, and in this case, not in a way I was happy with (Note to self, don't see an 18 with your father again...). Still, a blockbuster of a movie, very deserving of a Best Picture spot.


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