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The Wolf of Wall Street: Blu Ray Review


Rating: R18
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Here comes yet another portrayal of the pursuit of the American dream - and a ferocious piece of film-making from esteemed director Martin Scorsese, based on the memoir of the same name from Jordan Belfort.

Leonardo Di Caprio is Jordan Belfort, a wannabe stockbroker, who realises his dream and makes his way to Wall Street. But, his first day as a qualified stockbroker, turned out to be October 19, 1987 - aka Black Monday.

However, Belfort doesn't give up and starts his second life in a boiler room brokerage, offering penny stocks to the masses and delivering massive mark-ups to those selling. Soon, he's living an obscene lifestyle thanks to his Stratton Oakmont company - but attracts the attention of the FBI (in the shape of Kyle Chandler's Patrick Denham) who is determined to bring him down...

The Wolf of Wall Street is a hedonistic rise and fall picture that sears its way onto your eyeballs and into your cinematic consciousness. It's the tale of an anti-hero (one of Scorsese's familiar characters) who pushes his limits as far as he can and manages to inveigle his way under our skin and garner our support.

It helps that di Caprio is on fire here, delivering a bravura performance that's all bluster and bravado - one which commands your attention from the start to the very end as you hope the anti-hero gets his comeuppance. Like Belfort, we're seduced by the lavish excesses on the screen, sucked into his world and living the Wall Street Gordon Gekko mantra that "Greed is Good." Delivering drug-addled speeches directly to the camera and yet offering self-effacing moments when necessary (his first dalliance with Naomi lasts only 11 seconds), di Caprio's Belfort is at once an indictment and celebration of the American Dream and those of us who revel in it. He's as much addicted to the pills, the booze, the sex, the drugs and the lifestyle as we, as the audience, are addicted to his portrayal of it, sucked in from the moment the hookers and the scenes of dwarf tossing erupt from the offices of Stratton Oakmont as they wallow in their bacchanal style debauchery.

Morals go out of the window in Scorsese's piece, as the three hour story begins to unfold. The early moral compass of Belfort's first wife is jettisoned and we hardly glimpse any effect on those whom Belfort and his troupe of sharp-suited commandos defrauded; thankfully, Naomi, Jordan's trophy wife (promisingly played by former Neighbours' star Margot Robbie) becomes the voice of reason later on in the pic as she realises her mistake and rails against the debauchery of the world around her before it's too late.

Scorsese's littered The Wolf of Wall Street movie with as much humour as there are drugs around, giving it an extremely cartoonish feel. One sequence where Belfort tries to drive home to get his partner off the home phone which is bugged by the feds, is rife with physical buffoonery and laughs before twisting into something horrific and life-threatening. Moments like this are peppered throughout Scorsese's bankers-living-as-gangsters pic and show a spritely directorial fire. In fact, while the film begins to sag a little in its 3 hour run time, Scorsese shows no sign of loosing the reins or the plot, delivering moment upon moment of pure adrenalin thrill as this shallow and stylish paean to excess flows.

It helps that he has a great ensemble cast - from the brief but trailblazing turn from Matthew McConaughey as an impresario who inspires Belfort to the goofy white toothed co-founder Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), through to the powderkeg of Belfort's father (Rob Reiner) and The Artist's Jean duJardin as a Swiss banker, everyone delivers a searing turn that borders on parody at times but is wisely pulled back in by the director.

The Wolf of Wall Street is undoubtedly a visceral film of excess - from the larger than life performances of all involved - bar the quieter turns of Kyle Chandler's fed and Robbie's wife - to the debauchery, it's a brassy, bold piece of cartoonish film (complete with more crimes against the New Zealand accent) that is infectious in its shallow hedonism and utterly undeniable as a movie experience.

With no condemnation of Belfort's lifestyle, his choices and his crimes, the picture closes with a chilling snapshot of how the rich continue to ride roughshod over the system. But while the audience may be left a little appalled, there can be no doubt that this is Martin Scorsese having fun, cutting loose and more than delivering the goods - a film which rages and seethes as much as it is soaked in dark humour; one that dazzles as it deals out another indictment of the excesses of our times.

Extras: Round table, featurettes

Rating:


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