Wolf of Wall Street

I came out of the cinema thinking that this film was great, having really enjoyed watching it. However upon writing this post I have started to feel less excited by it. Maybe I shouldn’t over analyse it so much but anyway here are my thoughts.

First off I think this is the first Scorsese movie that I’ve enjoyed in a long time, this is him being back on form. Also this is my favorite De Caprio film and probably the best of the partnership between the actor and director.

However the film has it’s problems. Its too long, I can think of 4 scenes that could have been cut as they added nothing to the story, strangely they just popped into my head with not much thought required, a rarity for me.

However the real major problem is that at it’s core the movie had no moral center. Was it an attack on the American Dream? What about all the victims of the Wolf? They are painted as dumb schmucks who should have known better. Ultimately the wolf was breaking the law yet it’s all played as fun with zero repercussions outside his circle. Also the female characters all come off as cyphers and eye candy and not much else. Did his wife really not care about all the drugs they were taking? She must have known about all the whores yet she put up with it, why?

The film takes the Wolf’s point of view whole heartedly with no genuine criticism of it and I find that a flaw. It ends up being a film full of carnality which, don’t get me wrong, was really fun to watch but that’s all it ends up being.

Maybe Scorsese planned it like that. It was a window into just how crazy they were and we as a society let them get away with it. If this is the case then that’s what makes the ending even harder to take. The real life Wolf makes a cameo appearance suggesting an almost endorsement of the behavior in the movie.

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One Response to “Wolf of Wall Street”

  1. thebigsmoke Says:

    I also came out of the cinema thinking it was great and for me that feeling hasn’t worn off since.

    For a start, I agree this is Scorsese’s best for a long, long time. For me as well, I think it’s his best pairing with DiCaprio (although I have to admit there’s at least one film they made together that I haven’t seen).

    As a piece of filmmaking, I think it’s fair to say it lacked the punch of Scorsese at his very best. Who knows if he will ever find that form again, but this was his best for a while. An excellent film in my opinion.

    We come to films with certain expections; the good guys wear white hats, the bad guys wear black hats. The film messes with that and it seems that you’re questioning its merit simply because it doesn’t conform to the conventions you’re familar with. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach the film.

    For the most part, Jordan Belfort is portrayed as outrageously immoral and I could get behind that, but then randomly, on occassion, I was asked to accept that he was a doer of good. Some of his actions are reprehensible, some are sympathetic or even praiseworthy. So, he is a morally ambiguous character, but he’s also charismatic, funny and outrageous. For these reasons he’s likeable and viewers will find themselves rooting for him.

    If the film does take Jordan Belfort’s side, I think it’s only in so far as it points out that, despite his obvious character flaws, he shines brightly and dared to take what he wanted from life. In a sense, with his gusto for life, he’s a Falstaffian character.

    Scorsese could have fleshed out some of the female characters, but what would be the point? I doubt that is how the book is written and I doubt it would reflect the reality. After all, we’re talking about a film of a book about experiences of a male-dominated and chauvanistic working environment. I think it’s also worth pointing out that the male characters, apart from Jordan Belfort, are not multi-dimensional either.

    We’re probably missing something having not read the book. Bear in mind it’s autobiographical, so question why his wife put up with his cheating as much as you like, that’s just the way stuff happened apparently. Why spend a lot of time looking for a message or a specific meaning in what is essentially a study of greed, lust and human frailty? To me that stuff is interesting and entertaining in itself. I will come to my own conclusions without having a moral message rammed down my throat. If I wanted that there’s any number of other films about Wall Street that I could watch.

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