As we are talking about a movie here that bagged five Academy Awards nominations (including the ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, ‘The Best Achievement in Directing’, and the ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ categories) and one Golden Globe, I was expecting a grandiose production typical of Martin Scorsese’s well-appreciated directing style. The man, whose name hallmarks The Taxi Driver, The Departed, and The Goodfellas, pretty much blundered this time: The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie without any trace of message or aim.
The true story of Jordan Belfort captured Scorsese’s imagination for an understandable reason: wealth and fortune are extremely classy topics today, and the public seems to find great enjoyment in following up what newly well-off people decide to spend their money on. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to admire the assets, gadgets, cars, and jewelry that we know we will never have – but not within the confines of a three-hour long movie. The story itself deserves about four lines in a screenplay: a talented young man finds out that he has an extraordinary aptitude in selling fake shares, and makes an awful lot of money with it. He fools around with his colleagues as much as he can, but the police start investigating, and in the end, he finds himself all alone, incarcerated. That is all. It was not even four lines. The rest of the movie is loaded with product placements of luxurious brands, naked women, explicit, and, – let me say – disgusting public sex scenes, and, of course, money, money, money. The main problem with all this is that the movie lacks both a positive and a negative message. There is no moral in it (except for the fact that if you cheat, you will get into jail, but this message is on the intellectual level of a 5th grader, and it does not deserve a high-budget film), but neither does it aim to deter the audience from this lifestyle; all the characters seem happy and satisfied with their situation, only regretting that they were caught in the end. It does not really form a clear outline in my head why Scorsese would devote a film to such a phenomenon, but surely, there is some kind of explanation to this.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance somewhat elevates the quality of the movie, but unfortunately, he is still not enough to save the day. There was a massive outrage about him not winning the Oscar, but personally, I believe that he has played several roles that were million times more exciting and fruitful than this one – Belfort’s character is nothing but a shallow, infantile, and very boring man, whose personality is no more interesting than a potato’s, even if he is played by one of the greatest actors of our time.
All in all, this movie was a huge disappointment, despite the fact that the creator crew was brilliant. I really hope that Mr. DiCaprio will be able to step out of the rising, shining, and then falling man-character (see The Aviator and The Great Gatsby), and finally reveal the true talent that is inside of him. Also, Mr. Scorsese should prove that he has not yet grown too old for this profession – we need much more than Chanel bags and banknotes to be entertained!
by Dimitrow Daniella