Movie Reviews

Martin Scorsese brings out the laughs in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

By Zaki JufriMovies - 09 January 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 10:42 AM

Martin Scorsese brings out the laughs in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

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Rating: 4/5 

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ tells the story of the rapid rise and swift fall of stock-market wizard Jordan Belfort. The movie sees Leonardo DiCaprio delivering one of his most captivating performances on the big screen.

Channelling Gordon Gecko to the nth degree, DiCaprio’s Belfort is an unscrupulous stockbroker whose only mission in life is to make millions by selling dodgy stocks to unsuspecting Americans and later the one per cent.

From delivering business-meeting speeches whilst high on drugs or breaking the Fourth Wall to give audiences the lowdown on stock-trading, DiCaprio’s searing performance sucks you into the cocaine-high of Belfort’s world; a debauched bacchanalia filled with booze, obscene amounts of money, drug-fuelled parties, fast cars and prostitutes mostly in their birthday suits. It lures you — in spite of the immoral proclivities, you are tempted to taste his world. 

Aiding and abetting Belfort in fleecing money out of people is his right-hand man, the equally obnoxious WASP-wannabe Danny Azoff, who is played by Jonah Hill in his best performance since ‘Moneyball’.

The film’s delectable ensemble cast also adds fuel to the fire, all stepping onto the plate to load the screen with entertaining performances. From Matthew McConaughey’s scene-stealing Mark Hanna, Belfort’s stock-broking mentor who dishes out helpful advice on topics ranging from martinis to masturbation; to DiCaprio’s neophyte and ‘The Artist’s’ Jean Dujardin swarthy Swiss banker Jean Jacques Saurel; to Joanna Lumley’s Aunt Emma and Margot Robbie’s Naomi, Belfort’s sex object and trophy wife who later becomes the movie’s voice of reason.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ has all the familiar flourishes of a Martin Scorsese movie: male fraternity and machismo, big speeches, drugs, F bombs (plenty of them) and big performances by its cast.

The difference between this and other Scorsese films is that no one dies, but the antics of Belfort and his ilk (especially if you’re one of his victims) just scream bloody murder.

And another thing: This is Scorsese’s FUNNIEST movie. 

Yes. Those old enough might remember his 1980s comedies ‘King of Comedy’ and ‘After Hours’ but what the director brought to ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is not just laughs but a cocaine-and-Quaaludes-addled movie-based-on-a-book-based-on-a-true-story that is so indulgent, outlandish and farcical, it borders on parody. 

A traditional Scorsese movie it is not, and nor it is his most profound, but its style-over-substance works in telling a pointed yet stinging social critique about excess and the ‘whatever it takes’ chase for the American Dream.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is a terrific movie and infinitely re-watchable, but it stops a few notches short of what could be the ne plus ultra of Martin Scorsese movies.

If nothing else, it is Scorsese and his cast firing on all cylinders, delivering blue chip quality filmmaking that might have been impossible in the hands of any other director. 

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ opens in cinemas 9 January