Review: The Wolf of Wall Street


Leonardo DiCaprio is Jordan Belfort: Oscar is a mere pleonasm

I love Shutter Island. And I find Hugo to be an absolutely adorable movie. But it’s something like The Wolf of Wall Street that allows director Martin Scorsese to do (again) the kind of genre nobody does it better: stories regarding outlaws, sordid souls whose irreversible conduct crashes through all kind of moral values, and even human lives in its brutal path – and, even with all the despicable characteristics, will win over the audience and even make them (in a way) cheer for them and stick by their side, even when the rock bottom becomes the inevitable outcome.

The story is based on the real life of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a reckless stockbroker who quickly ascended and built his reputation around Wall Street throughout the 80s and 90s. Needless to say that Belfort’s strategy was far from legal, and Terrence Winter’s script explores the foundation of his company Stratton Oakmont, personal life and his consequentional FBI complications.

In some ways – a lot of ways – The Wolf of Wall Street resembles one of Scorsese’s best pictures: Goodfellas. Not only by the fact we’re dealing with two real stories about people who ascended on their illegal careers (only to collapse to their own stratospheric ambitions), but also the way they were told by its masterful director. Whether a series of promotional-in-the-story videos, use of voice over (even a curious “telepathic dialogue” between two characters), his famous long shots (here, one of the most intense sequences of the movie), cleverly breaking the Fourth Wall to approach the protagonist with the audience (“You’re not following this, are you? The question is: was all this legal? Absolutely fucking not”, says Jordan to the camera after a long explanation full of Economic terms) or changes on the screen’s aspect ratio, Scorsese’s visual decisions are inspiring. Lots of credits also go to editor Thelma Schoonmaker (Scorsese’s long-time collaborator), for mantaining the 3-hour projection packed into a rambunctious rhythm.

It’s impressive how humor (very dark, obviously) finds its way around here. Commonly know for his work on TV series like The Sopranos and Boardwak Empire, first-time movie writer Terence Winter draws a series of inteligent, witty dialogues that efficiently plunges the audience into the wildness of Wall Street. Some of the best ones envolves a ferociously funny (and fundamental) conversation with Matthew McConaughey’s Mark Hanna and an sutile verbal dispute between and Jordan and the FBI agent played by Kyle Chandler (who, by the looks of it, has settled to play the same type of character around Hollywood productions), that grows more intense once the two characters begin to unveil each other’s intensions. Winter also doesn’t shy way Jordan’s luxurious personal life, filled with moments of intense drug abbuse and obscene sexual orgys; and even if those moments result on comical scenes, it’s impossible not to have the notion that  the main character is getting close to self-destruction.

Which leads us to Leonardo DiCaprio’s main performance. One that, if not successful, would result on the film’s innability to connect with the audience, and once more I find myself thankful for the glorious collaboration between the actor and Scorsese. Under the skin of the title’s Wolf, an intense DiCaprio reaches one of the top performances of his career, revealing incredible habilities as an actor, dancer and even… gymnast – just wait for the infamous scene where him and colleague Jonah Hill (who doesn’t even seems to be Jonah Hill, due to his complete immersion in disturbed-drug addicted Donnie Azoff) suffer the effects of a powerful rare drug. I doubt we’ll se a scene insane like this for the rest of the year. DiCaprio is so good that a very much deserved Oscar would sound like a pleonasm.

With one of the most inspired incidental soundtracks of this filmography, Martin Scorsese transforms The Wolf of Wall Street into a frenetic greek tragedy of the finacial world. It can be regarded as the genre’s Goodfellas, yet another brilliant adition to the director’s career.

A masterful work.

Thank you, Marty.

Thank you, Leo.

Obs: The real Jordan Belfort makes a brief appearence on the final scene.

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