This may be one of the most controversial films of the year. After a record setting amount of f-bombs, multiple people walking out, and one oscar voter infamously shaming Martin Scorsese over it. But, as the film itself states, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. And so the Wolf Of Wall Street got five Oscar nominations. But did it earn those nominations?
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an addict. He’s addicted to drugs, sex, and especially money. And thanks to his partner (Jonah Hill) and his wife, (Margot Robbie) he is able to live life to the fullest. But behind Belfort’s outward facade is a human being with both pros and cons.
Let’s get this out of the way first. This is a dirty movie. And by dirty, I don’t mean there’s a lot of mud in it. I think I might be going to hell for watching this. And let’s get another thing out of the way. This film is exactly 3 hours long. Anybody who’s been reading my blog for a while knows that I don’t particularly like long movies. With all that in mind, I went into this movie expecting it to be excruciatingly bad. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s quality.
The story of american greed is told excellently well. Even when Belfort is doing awful things, he still retains a sense of likability that shines through in the movie’s final third, as we see how fragile he really is. The wonderful editing and Terence Winter’s screenplay actually make the film, while long at times, enjoyable to watch.
Then there’s Scorsese’s direction. Now, you can defend the guy as much as you want, and I like what he did with Hugo, but the guy isn’t exactly subtle. There are several obvious moments, including showing a cartoon with Popeye and his spinach when Belfort grabs his cocaine, or having a drop of blood coming down from Belfort’s eye like a tear. (in an otherwise very effective scene.)
Then we get to the performances. I must admit, Leonardo DiCaprio totally blew my expectations out of the water. This was the first time DiCaprio actually seemed to disappear into a role. He was Jordan Belfort. And while I was expecting Jonah Hill to be dull and boring like his performance in Moneyball, he really shocked me with his rather expressive and comic timing. I would even go as far as saying that both DiCaprio and Hill give career-best performances.
The Wolf Of Wall Street is one of those movies that I can see both why people love it and why people hate it. The performances, editing, and screenplay are all very good, but it’s a bit too long and obvious to make it a truly great film. It’s a long film, it’s a dirty film, but it is a good film.