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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street, Ipswich Film Theatre, Ipswich, February 14!

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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street, Ipswich Film Theatre, Ipswich, February 14!

The Wolf of Wall Street is the latest film from the king of Hollywood, Martin Scorsese. It premiered in the UK on January 17.

The film is the true story of wholly unlikeable stockbroker and fraudster, Jordan Belford (playfully nicknamed ‘Wolfie’ by his colleagues), played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film tells of his humble beginnings as a fresh-faced broker to his creation of the notorious Stratton Oakmont brokerage firm and stratospheric leap to multi-millionairedom through illegal activity, and eventually his capitulation under the weight of drugs, alcohol and the ensuing criminal investigation. As Belfort tells the audience a number of times, the film is not heavy with financial dealings, instead it focuses mainly on the lifestyle that came with the inordinate amount of money Belfort was making.

The film is driven by DiCaprio’s depiction of Belfort. We see a characteristically-powerful performance in which he plays a man whose amorality is only matched by his unbridled thirst for money. He is engrossing to watch, making the contestants of The Apprentice look like choir boys. He swaggers from one debauched extreme to the next, exuding power and treating all like disposable objects – a scene in which he makes a female colleague shave her head for $10,000 best illustrates this. The role is unlike much of his previous work; the closest comparison may be his portrayal of slave trader Calvin Candie in Django Unchained. You will cringe at his offensiveness, sit mouth agape at the scenes of outrageous drug-fuelled parties and be enthralled by his over-the-top monologues to his employees as he whips the “wolf pit” into a money-hungry frenzy.

Jonah Hill gives a strong supporting performance as (if it was possible) the even more depraved second-in-command to Belfort. Imagine the love child of Richard Hammond and Joseph Geobbels with a mouth that belongs in the Sopranos and you won’t be far of the mark. He acts as the comic relief of the film and his back and forth with DiCaprio and the supporting cast is highly entertaining. He is reminiscent of Joe Peschi’s character in Goodfellas; a pint-sized ball of perversion and obscenity with a set of pristine teeth that are only outshone by the gold Rolexes that abound in every scene.

Ex-Neighbours actress, Margo Robbie, gives a strong performance as Belfort’s trophy wife and is seemingly the only character able to outshout DiCaprio in the fiery rows. Joanna Lumley plays an upperclass English inlaw and Matthew McConaughy makes a short yet memorable appearance as Belfort’s eccentric mentor.

The film has been criticised in the media for “glorifying psychopathic behaviour” by most notably a daughter of one of Jordan Belforts’ business associates. This reviewer will admit – as an impressionable 22-year-old with an overdraft and student loan that would likely barely cover the costs of Belfort’s cocaine habit for a week – the film did have a certain allure. However, this allure quickly fades as the film enters the third act and Belforts’ escapades go from (extreme) office hijinks to domestic violence, kidnapping and scenes in which his drug habit becomes self-destructive and pitiful.

Belfort is not glorified in this film; despite making a short cameo at the end, he could surely not be proud watching his on-screen depiction. I think most people with any amount of empathy or morality will be able to see that this is a despicable character. Rather than a glorification of this culture, what it seems to actually be is a reflection of the lifestyle we love to hate in recent years – the veritable bogey man; the banker.

The Wolf of Wall Street has been nominated for five Oscars, including best actor and supporting actor for DiCaprio and Jonah Hill respectively, best director and best picture. Whether DiCaprio will finally get the Oscar that has thus far alluded him remains to be seen, but it is hard to find a more performance-driven film this year.

The film is showing at Ipswich Film Theatre from February 14. It is not to be missed.

Words: Jacob Lees

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