The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

Based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name, it is an extravagant retelling of the rise and the fall of a young stockbroker who ruled the financial world.

Optioned by its star Leonardo DiCaprio at the time the memoir was published, the actor wanted his long time collaborator Martin Scorsese to direct it. Scorsese hesitated for a long time before getting in this story much like he did when Robert De Niro proposed to him the story of Raging Bull. The old master, Martin Scorsese, was not sure he was the right director to tell this story of finance and debauchery. But when the project passed in the hands of Red Granite Pictures letting full control on his future film, Scorsese was fully in.

As much as I love most of Martin Scorsese’s films, read here Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The King of Comedy, The Departed, After Hours, The Last Temptation of Christ just to name a few, his later films have been hit or miss for me with his more recent and The Aviator for instance. It seems like Marty kind of lost some of his touch or his inspiration to make personal films. First, The Wolf of Wall Street needs to be rewrote and/or recut. Its considerable length of almost three hours of coke sniffing, pills, sex, and too few scenes of his financial crimes centers too much on the side effects of a man buried in endless money but a demonstration of how success can be overwhelming and lead to excesses of all sorts. Those lines are difficult to write because as much as I wanted to love, or at least like this film, I can not close my eyes on its weakest elements. Even with the little winks, or obvious if you prefer, to Citizen Kane.

Terence Winter’s script needed rewrite and I can’t believe that it exists a four hour long cut of this already too long misdemeanor. At some point, a tighter story still centered on drug abuse and the ugliness of its central character would have been proved even more efficient. With Scorsese’s storytelling, he doesn’t need to much images to tell clear ideas. Here there’s a definite stall in the story and it develops not enough on character psychology.

Speaking of character, the wolf himslef, Belfort played by DiCaprio is another rendition of Leo still playing himself and giving another linear performance that he seems to enjoy a little too much. Over the top and far beyond. Still, it was DiCaprio in a movie. Portraying a unsympathetic character like Jordan Belfort and trying to make it as great as Henry Hill in Goodfellas was too much for the young Leo to chew. Sure he has a swagger and he was easily connecting with the man he was portraying, but he seems to not really let Belfort becomes him. He tries to impersonate without real success. Same for his co-star Jonah Hill who’s again stoney Hill in a movie. Nothing to wet your pants with.

Finally, I would not call it a turkey but I’m very disappointed with this movie that I was genuinely looking forward this year. Sure it’s Scorsese and the interest is there but it is one of his lesser films that as an enthusiast of the aforementioned film from him I’ll definitely not rank amongst my favorites. Below average and it hurts me to state this since I love Marty so much as a director, film buff, and film historian.

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