Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Released December 25, 2013

It used to be Robert De Niro, but now Leonardo DiCaprio is definitely Martin Scorsese’s go-to guy. After three consecutive Best Picture nominees, which resulted in three Oscar nominations for Scorsese as director (and one win) and one for DiCaprio, and another collaboration, “Shutter Island,” they’re back with another outrageous tale based on a true story, that of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who had a meteoric rise in the 1980s and 1990s that made him the most notorious man on Wall Street. DiCaprio and Scorsese are a formidable duo, and while this isn’t their most fruitful partnership, they still do good work.

DiCaprio, who at age thirty-nine manages to play a twentysomething convincingly, usually takes on roles that find him experiencing great fortune only to eventually fall victim to the impermanence of his success. In this case, Belfort’s humble beginnings with a supportive and doting wife (Cristin Milioti) as an eager and honest broker under the tutelage of the zany Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) are quickly overshadowed by his realization that it’s possible to make enormous profits off of “penny stocks” and leave the rest of the world behind him. It’s not long before Belfort is drawn in by the lure of endless money, drugs, and a lifestyle in which he answers to one.

Scorsese is certainly capable of making epics, and he has directed DiCaprio in a few of them already. This story does have the feel of an epic, but it’s not structured as such. There is no balanced or bookended narrative in the film, and its three-hour runtime makes its middle feel extremely excessive. Belfort’s irresponsible partying goes on forever, and while there’s always a sense that his downfall is imminent, it takes far too long to actually play out. The focus on drugs and their effects takes an overly prominent position, and Belfort’s story feels like it could have been much shorter, and not ended so abruptly.

DiCaprio assumes most roles with ease. Earlier this year, he was the alluring and mysterious title character in “The Great Gatsby,” and here he gets to put his cards more fully on the table. He’s at his best when he’s squaring off with those who seek to belittle him, like Kyle Chandler’s FBI agent or his wife, Naomi. Australian actress Margot Robbie, whose previous include mostly TV, is the real find of the film as Naomi, truly her own individual person yet not immune from the intoxication of luxury living and difficult to name as the film’s most sympathetic character. There’s a lot to “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but much like its main character’s scheming, it all feels a bit disorganized and thinly held together.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice review Abe. It is not only the boldest and most entertaining movie of the year, but it may be the best one too. Well, for me at least and I may have been a bit too happy with this movie.