The Wolf of Wall Street

My week long battle is over. Seven days of my life spent in conflict with Scorsese’s 180-minute filth-fest. My body had a reaction to this film (that I am convinced is strictly biological) forcing me no other choice but to consume in bite-sized chunks. Considering heart palpitations were a side-effect even with small doses of The Wolf’of Wall Street, I caution to say going in all out, all at once probably would have led to full-blown cardiac arrest. In simple terms, it is funny. Its is entertaining. It is highly pornographic and inappropriate in every sense of the word. But it is one hell of a ride.

Jordan Belfort is a businessman with big dreams. You only have to watch the trailer to get a taste of the ambition and, some may say, greed, of the man. Think dollar sign eyes and money-scented aftershave. He becomes increasingly arrogant and audacious, a byproduct of incalculable success and ineffable money consumption. Cash changes him. Into a monster? Or an exceptional businessman?

I feel like this is the kind of film you can either love or hate, so giving it four stars is a bit of a coward’s move. I clearly lack the disposition to commit to the marmite rating scale. It’s not a film I would necessarily rush back to, considering the majority of my recollection revolves around the fact that 3 hours is a long time. The film couldn’t get more saturated with debauchery. It’s incredible really, that the cast and crew managed to stay alive, let alone working to this standard, on a six month shoot. Hardcore doesn’t even cut it.

I can only imagine the atmosphere on set during the scene where Leo is struggling and screaming, trying to crawl into his sports car. How does he make drug-induced slurring sound like an art form? (I feel like I can get away with pretentious comments like that when they refer to such a die-hard piece of cinema…) If I’ve learnt anything from watching this, it’s that drugs do weird shit to people. And I mean, weird.

Now, for me, the era was a problem. At not one point did I feel immersed in the 90s. With certain films, you get a real tangible sense of the place in time you are experiencing. The design, the clothes, the music, the sounds – every detail has the potential to say something about the period. But with The Wolf, I felt like I was watching the happenings of a 2014 mega-dealer. But maybe that was intentional. Maybe Scorsese wanted the film to feel current and relatable, reflecting the self-indulgence of the time we live in now. Or maybe the idea was to focus precisely on the life and times of Jordan Belfort, tracking his actions, never taking the metaphorical eye off him. He created this microcosm for Belfort and his minions, filled to the brim with drugs, sex and an unhealthy amount of cash (so much so, anyone to come into brief contact may end up on the edge of madness).

Just when I thought I had forgotten about Matthew McConaughey’s brief appearance at the very, very, very beginning of this wild journey, Leo brings it all back with a good couple of minutes dedicated to that impromptu chest pump. Hm hm hm. The little things made me love the grandness of it all. The whole is worth the sum of its parts and there sure are some damn good parts to The Wolf of Wall Street.

Letterboxd

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