They say that Scorsese is back, well, not actually back, since he’s been making films consistently forever now, but The Wolf Of Wall Street feels like something different. Yes, The Wolf Of Wall Street harkens back to what we all really consider a Scorsese movie to be like, a long epic, crime movie, with sex, violence and swearing, and that’s just what we’ve been delivered. Of course we all know Scorsese’s most famous movies in Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino and so on, his most popular and most founded upon are the mob-esque ones that detail high crime. It’s no secret why they are so, and not only from their content, but also through Scorsese’s directing prowess have these films reached a while different cultural lexicon. Even stuff like Gangs Of New York and The Aviator aren’t quite quintessential Scorsese, even though they are great films, so I guess, yes, in a sense this is classic Scorsese formula, just formulated for 2013 tastes.
The thing about The Wolf Of Wall Street unlike any of those other films is that it’s not a drama, but rather a comedy. Sure, Scorsese is known for his bleak pictures, but they always have a strong comedic sense, and are always light of foot in certain parts. “Wall Street” is seemingly an inverse of these previous traditions with the vast majority of the film focused on comedic elements, all focused through a “dramatic” storyline, but engulfing it in jokes and laughs. Hearing about it beforehand that this was “Scorsese’s funniest film” made me uneasy in him taking his old and true concept and making it kind of silly and odd, seemed weird to me an not like anything he’s ever done. But, the film works splendidly as a comedy, and so off-kilter and taking Scorsese’s style to it’s brink, but never pushing it over, with delightful physical, verbal and sight gags, going fore bore into the proceedings. It maintains like a 20% serious tone throughout, a baseline, but the other 80% is just an entertaining and comedic filled time in this crazy world.
Don’t let any of that fool you, this is classic Scorsese. This film is like The Aviator on crack, literally. We follow Jordan Belfort on his way up to stock trading ladder, as he eventually gets his own company and gets more money than a Fort Knox stronghold. All throughout the film he does more drugs than a Rolling Stones concert, bangs more women than a Motley Crue concert, and makes more money than Gordon Gecko. If you had to sum up the movie in three words, it’d simply be sex, drugs and money. All these facets are explored and enjoyed through a myriad of ways, and lend that classic Scorsese touch. DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort is high throughout the whole movie, different women around every corner, and new “investment” opportunities seek to make him even more money.
Of course, like these stories are always destined to do, Belfort is faced with everything going to shit, as he gets in deeper with his own company, money creating efforts and FBI on his tail, a shadow begins to follow him. Caught up in all this greatness of drugs and money and power and self-worth it’s hard to give it all up, even if threats of fines and jail time are looking you in the face. It’s the crux of a lot of the film, how far will you go until too far is too far, how much is enough? When you get to feel this power and gain money so easily, is anything enough? Belfort feels this emotions back and forth, succumbing to the ultimate power of thinking of the greater good, until he vaults back to only thinking for himself. It’s never good enough, and really who knows if he actually ever truly learns a lesson.
DiCaprio gives one of his best performances in a while, which is pretty substantial since he’s just been giving knockout performance after knockout performance over the past couple of years. He’s a slime-ball, but since he’s Leo one you’re still always kinda rooting for him, even with that slightly sinister look he always plays off of his face. Really, it’s because DiCaprio is so goddamn charismatic that you’d follow him off the edge of Niagara Falls if he looked at you right. Jonah Hill plays another one of his “semi-serious roles, but actually still the comic relief” and he fits it perfectly. A rotund guy who just wants to make it in the world coattails off of DiCaprio and becomes his right-hand man, and lightens the situation. Margot Robbie continues to be amazingly gorgeous to look at, and plays DiCaprio’s “duchess valley girl” wife to the perfect degree.
Scorsese and DiCaprio deliver another classic, and one that I’m happy to watch, seemingly not getting to experience an epic 3-hour crime movie in a long time. The movie is just utterly entertaining with ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene of DiCaprio fucked off quaaludes, coke, crack, booze, women, you name it. While possibly cheap ploys for a “hard edge” movie, it all works in concert with the life that this film creates and the story it tells. Everything is over-the-top because this story and these people’s lives were over-the-top. It’s so ridiculous that it has to be true. Martin Scorsese’s still making these films, and DiCaprio is still knocking them out of the park, traditions die hard.