Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2014) ★★★★★

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Having lost his job in the Wall Street crash of 1987 and falling on hard times, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo Dicaprio), sets his sights on being a rich and successful stockbroker.

Inspired by a local dodgy dealership, Belfort starts small, selling small time stocks to the working class for high commission before targeting the wealthiest 1% of America and embarking on his own multi-million dollar company. Manipulating the finance market, Belfort hits the big bucks, splashing millions on his decadent lifestyle; a spiralling world of fast cars, yachts, hookers and drugs.

Within the first few minutes of the film, audiences are made aware as to why this film is not for the faint hearted. The film opens with scenes of dwarves thrown at a target for amusement, Belfort snorting coke from the butt-crack of a naked hooker and is followed by countless other drug-soaked and graphic sex scenes. It is hardly surprisingly that the film has caused such controversy. For the first time in a while, Scorsese has produced a film that will join such classics as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas in the canon and IMDB's Top 100 in few shorts years to come.  However, despite it being so heavily anticipated, I felt Wolf of Wall Street was not as I had originally envisioned and it could be said for some that this may take a little getting used to yet it wastes no time in throwing you in to its darkly comic narrative. As I have already mentioned, as spectators we are thrown in head first to film's highly intimate and erotic scenes but scenes that reflect nothing like Scorsese has ever done before; it is utterly hilarious. 

On paper, Wolf of Wall Street appears to be the perfect Scorsese genre; a dark, immoral tale of criminal's surviving act yet this is not all it seems. Unlike previous Academy Awarding Winning Scorsese, we are presented with an anti-hero who gives us no choice but to hate him whilst glamorising this world of sin. This is made possible not only under Scorsese's direction but by DiCaprio's flawless portrayal of the ultimate bad-guy who lies and cheats his way through every element in life, yet always emerges smelling of roses.

It seems this film tries to be anything like a Scorsese film we've ever seen before as seems to attempt to dodge ticking all the boxes that will ensure Oscar recognition. Some scenes felt reminiscent of Tarantino as they  spare us of no details and completely shock audiences whilst others reflected that of P T Andersen's Boogie Nights and its representation of sexuality. The takes are shorter, the mise en scene has all changed from his dank crime, thrillers and there is far more emphasis on the script. It seemed that in doing so, there are several moments in which it seemed some details had been neglected all together. I was crying out for the editor to be bitch-slapped as DiCaprio is taking yet his mouth isn't moving and a random leaf hits him in the face on a clearly green-screened shot in a park. For such a high budget, acclaimed and more importantly, directed by Martin f*cking Scorsese, such errors are frankly disappointing. This is saved, however by the outstanding acting of both Dicaprio and Jonah Hill who are more then deserving of their Oscar nominations.

In many ways for me, the acting is what makes this film what it is. It is clear already that DiCaprio has well and truly filled the shoes of Robert De Niro as he takes on the new movement of Scorsese films. His acting style seems to drawn inspiration from his predecessor, similar to the performance of De Niro in The King of Comedy. Jordan Belfort is calm, collected and cocky yet utterly insane. He has money and therefore is untouchable, of God-like status. Yet strip back the so-called success and fortune and you are left with a chemically dependant and enhanced, gibbering wreck of a man (the scene where he tries to get to his car for instance). The icing on the cake of course is the improvisation between DiCaprio and his supporting actor, Hill who proves yet again that he is worthy of his spot as a serious yet brilliantly witty actor status. 

All in all, despite the heavily drug-soaked and frankly what I can only describe as soft, maybe even hard-core porn, is a hilarious and excellently produced Academy Award Winning film. I was entertained through-out, expressed many a laughs out loud, despite having lost the circulation in my leg at one point due to the length of it. I am also still deciding whether or not it is empowering or completely degrading to women but won't get in to that. Despite featuring the over-use of  two of least favourite themes (drugs and graphic sex), some dodgy editing and the three hours of it, I believe Wolf of Wall Street is set to take home the gold this February. I would love for Leonardo Dicaprio to prize Best Actor, it is long since overdue, and I wonder if this is the future of Scorsese films, but only time will tell. Don't watch it with your parents. The Wolf of Wall Street gets a Sophie Star rating of a whooping, 5 out of 5.

So, there you have it, another film off my list of films to see this season. On a quick side note, many movie fans were devastated today to find that Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. I was genuinely saddened by the news and believed him to one of the greatest actors in the industry. I try not to comment on celebrity deaths on social media of any kind but can't help but think of all the outstanding performances in dozens on titles. It is only a matter of time before some idiot on Twitter confuses him with Dustin Hoffman. Before they get a chance, and without naming his entire filmography (though I'd like to), here is my Top 10 favourite Philip Seymour Hoffman films...

1. Capote (2005)
2. The Master (2012)
3. Happiness (1998)
4. Doubt (2008)
5. Mary and Max (2009)
6. The Ides of March (2011)
7. Synedoche, New York (2008)
8. The Big Lebowski (1998)
9. Moneyball (2011)
10. Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)



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