Many column inches have been written about Martin Scorsese’s latest collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio. About its gender politics, about its self-absorbed nature, about its three-hour running time – many of these articles seem to miss the point entirely.
Based on the memoir of lead character Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street documents Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise to inexplicable wealth by selling humongous amounts of penny stocks (relatively worthless shares of small companies) to individuals that cannot really afford the amounts of stocks sold to them by master-salesman Belfort. After capitalising on the everyman, Belfort, Donnie (Jonah Hill) and their gang of ill-educated but highly skilled salesmen setup their own business that quickly descends into a frat house of drugs, alcohol and women.
At no point does the film advocate the actions of its leads, that being said, it also doesn’t necessarily condemn them either. The key to a film such as The Wolf of Wall Street is how much you can sympathise and empathise with the leading characters.
The main criticism has to come from its length – with it being 180 minutes long, it’s an extremely fair criticism. Very few films justify that type of length however that being said, in a film where the backbone is based around excess, it can be argued that it makes thematic sense for the film itself to be excessive.
Whilst a flawed notion, The Wolf of Wall Street justifies this by managing to draw its audience into the world created by Scorsese and DiCaprio. Whilst this is not necessarily a pleasant world to be a part of, it is definitely entertaining for the vast majority of its huge running time.
With the collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio now in its fifth film, The Wolf of Wall Street is undoubtedly the most effervescent. Whilst there are aspects shown within the film that are deplorable, the line of depicting and endorsing is handled very deftly. It’s a fantastic achievement to see DiCaprio at the top of his game and having as much fun as he seems during the course of the film – anything with the aforementioned collaboration deserves attention and on the basis of The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s utterly deserved.