Film: The Wolf of Wall Street
Cast : Leonardo DiCaprio,, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Cristin Milioti, Jon Bernthal, P.J. Byrne, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze
The sex and sleaze in The Wolf of Wall Street will please those who are strangers to subtle nuances but your reviewer would have been happier with a truncated version of this biopic of a corrupt man and his cohorts.
At 180 minutes, Scorses’s adaptation of financial scamster Jordan Belfort’s bestselling memoir is a tad too long. Not that we were bored. Nosirree. But we were shocked and saddened by the hedonism. No, I’m not getting on to my moral high horse. So, I ask you, gentle reader: shouldn’t ethics and morality or the lack of it, be everyone’s business?
“Greed is good” or so said Gordon Gekko, the lizard-like stockbroker memorably played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street. Gekko was a role model for Belfort as he proceeded to mentor Gekko wannabes at his investment company Stratton Oakmont. As he tells them, “everyone wants to be rich.” And oh, how they lap up the smooth talk! Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) quits his job in a second to join the huckster!
Belfort’s brazenness we endured with a sense of deja vu. India is no stranger to white collar criminals who have engaged in securities fraud, money laundering etc. Besides, Belfort’s brazen activities took place in 1990s, almost two decades before the global economy faced its most dangerous crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As we know, the Financial Crisis of 2008 was brought about by crooks very few of whom went to jail. Belfort though served 22 months in prison (Kyle Chandler is delightful as the dogged FBI investigator Patrick Denham) for his nefarious “pump and dump” schemes. He was also ordered to pay over $100 million in restitution to his investors, of which he has paid a fraction around $14 million) after leaving prison and reinventing himself as a motivational speaker.
Screenwriter Terence Winter’s chronicle of Belfort’s rise and fall on Wall Street is awash with foul language from beginning to end. I’m not surprised considering the wolves of Wall Street broke nine out of Ten Commandments.
A character in the film calls Belfort “little man”. DiCaprio isn’t short, but we’ll let that pass. The cast is great but DiCaprio is riveting in voiceovers and direct addresses to viewers as the scamster, a role he’s played to perfection in such movies as Catch Me If You Can and The Great Gatsby. Which is why, we’d like to see DiCaprio play a really, really good guy in the near future.