Scorsese delivers chaos and corruption
Directed by Martin Scorsese
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, according to the New Testament. Yet for some people, this love makes no difference - they were already jerks. Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street is another of his "rags to riches" morality tales with a twist - the lead protagonist appears to be utterly without morals.
Based on convicted ex-trader Jordan Belfort's memoir, it packs in enough drug-taking, dwarf-tossing, corruption and swearing for a whole year of films.
Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio (as Belfort) let the viewer know the rules of the game from the start.
A mock advertisement for a sharebroker company presents Belfort's firm Stratton Oakmont as a model of financial probity and reputation, but is quickly yanked off the screens. Cut to: chaos, debauchery and money being used in ways probably not wise or legal.
DiCaprio is a great guide because of his baggage. His clean-cut looks have become weathered, while his narration is a masterpiece in the hard sell.
Meanwhile, Scorsese ditches his usual fluid style for frantic aggression - songs and scenes crash into each other with abandon.
True, the film doesn't properly explain the trading schemes which made Belfort and his cohorts rich and squandered millions from other people's savings. But the frenzied trading-floor sequences evoke enough of the chaos.
The support cast joins in the fun. Jonah Hill is vulpine as best friend and partner in crime Donnie Azoff, while there are startling cameos from Matthew McConaughey as a trader who shows Belfort the ropes and Jean Dujardin as a corrupt Eurotrash banker.
It's all shameless stuff, really - Margot Robbie is brassy as Belfort's trophy wife, but she's battling against the film's often uncomfortable strain of misogyny. It would also have been good to have had some levity - or at least a sense of the victims.
The Wolf of Wall Street treats everyone with contempt. It also subtly argues Belfort's crimes were small fry compared to the more reputable Wall Street films, whose mortgage "products" triggered the Global Financial Crisis. In short, this is an evil film. But it's brazen, daring and hilarious. I couldn't take my eyes off it. Buy into this now, pay for it later.
The Timaru Herald