Described as one of the best films of the year. As such it earned a vaunted nomination for Picture of the Year at this year’s Oscar Awards. High praise that. Now, you have to ask yourself if it was warranted or just a product of hype. Though this was not a bad film in any way I think that director Martin Scorsese’s (The Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence) latest film benefitted from several things.
Fresh out of school Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road, The Basketball Diaries) was eager to get a job on Wall Street and make his fortune. He had the misfortune of entering the stock market world just before it collapsed in 1987 after Black Monday. Jordan was out of a job and with no other real skills other than his gift for selling stocks to people. Willing to do anything he takes a job at a small office in a strip mall selling penny stocks.
After being quite successful at it Jordan comes up with the idea of opening his own office. With his partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill – 21 Jump Street, Superbad) he does just that. Penny stocks are not regulated so Jordan saw a lot of wiggle room there. This was how the brokerage firm Stratford-Oakmont was born. Stratford-Oakmont became a successful brokerage that grew in leaps and bounds in the 1990s. People enjoyed working there because it was a place of freedom and excess. Meaning anything went.
All this success was not necessarily good for Jordan. First of all his marriage to Teresa (Cristin Milioti – from television’s How I Met Your Mother) fell apart after he took up with the beautiful Naomi (Margot Robbie – About Time). Second, his lust for money caused Jordan and his partners to do things that were not entirely legal. Third the excessive lifestyle included an incredible amount of drug use by Jordan. Lastly the lavish life he led along with the showy nature of the firm attracted the attention of the FBI.
Living his life under the microscope of the FBI causes Jordan to become desperate and for the first time in his professional career make wrong decisions. Decisions that would eventually lead to his flaming downfall.
Seems to me that because this was a Scorsese directed film and starred DiCaprio that it was overvalued. When these two guys team up no matter what the quality it is claimed to be the best thing since sliced bread or in film terms, The Godfather. Not that this was a bad film as it was entertaining, but I don’t believe it deserved the praise it got because really this was like a Scarface version of a Wall Street film.
Like DePalma’s Scarface there is not much of a story here. It really is just a string of wild scenes featuring crazed behaviour by almost everyone involved. Nothing really to sink your teeth in when it comes to character development or the like. I don’t even think they aimed to tell a story rather just to distract you with all kinds of drugs, money, crazy cars, prostitutes, and wild parties. No suspense or redemption to be found here. All characters begin as people looking for as much money as they can get their hands on and no one sees the light resulting in some change.
The excess of the film was mind blowing at times. Because it was based on a true story you have to believe that it was at least in part true. The crazed behaviour, amount of money made in such a short time, drug abuse, decadence, and the sexism towards women was incredible. Hard to relate to. Three hours of lighthearted and often funny hedonism in which the crimes are not really against anyone. Moves at a quick pace and just tries to wow you rather than cause you to feel or think.
-The Wolf Pack
-Previews of Nebraska, A.C.O.D.: Adult Children of Divorce, Noah, Anchorman 2, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit