Sunday, 16 February 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street 2013

This film has created enough noise and received enough hype, without needing me to add my two-cents' worth. But I still will!

Wolf of Wall Street is the true story of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker, who made millions from corrupt dealings and securities fraud, after he suffered an early career setback due to the 'Black Monday' crash in 1987. The story not only revolves around Jordan's very lucrative and illegal ventures, but also his very debauched lifestyle. Drugs, alcohol, sex - Jordan abused it all. He lived a crazed, decadent, over-the-top life, which simply could not go on. And yet it does.

This is a black comedy - and we are not meant to be judging him. There are no moral lessons to be learnt, truth does not prevail and the honest are not the victors. Belfort today is a motivational speaker and still makes millions - some of them from the royalties of his book that was turned into a motion picture, which has already won the lead actor a Golden Globe! There are lots of silver linings here, but unfortunately, none for the victims of the frauds. Like I said, the film has been delivered in a certain vein - of dark comedy - and it is to the writers' and director's credit that they have not tried to make this serious or moralising at any point. It continues in the same vein and is a refreshing success because of its integrity.

The star of the show, from the first frame to the last is Leonardo di Caprio.
I keep hearing how he has improved as an actor over the years, which upsets me greatly. Because to be honest, he hasn't improved over the years; he's always been brilliant. Five top-notch performances before Titanic (1997) and at least seven great performances since - he has only been type-cast as a pretty face that can't act, because of one blockbuster, technically-sound film that girlfriends forced boyfriends to watch. Let's stop blaming it all on him!
After a long, long time, I have seen di Caprio completely unleashed in this film. If Jordan had no boundaries, neither does Leo. He is completely uninhibited and wild in his portrayal. It's fascinating to watch him on screen and see him deliver a performance that does not falter or disappoint for even a moment.

This is the fifth time that Martin Scorsese and di Caprio have worked together - and each time it's been a very different character, a very different film. But this is possibly their best effort together since The Aviator (2004). Despite all the hype around the film, it actually is that good. The performances, the storytelling, the direction, the cinematography, the music - everything fits and works. At 180 minutes, this may seem like a big one to commit to, but time flies when you're having fun. And this is fun!