Saturday, February 8, 2014

Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street:

Hello All!

Earlier this evening I watched 'The Wolf of Wall Street' and I thought I'd post a film review because it was brilliant!

I suppose I could end the review there, but I think I'll go into a tee-tiny bit more detail:

This Martin Scorsese film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Australia's Margot Robbie, along with an ensemble cast featuring Jonah Hill and cameo's by, well, every familiar face in film and television.

The Wolf of Wall Street depicts the life of Jordan Belfort, and is based on his memoirs of the same title.

After the stock market crash, known historically as 'Black Monday' young and ambitious stockbroker Jordan Belfort takes a job dealing penny stocks. He proves an instant hit and lands himself enough money - and a newfound friendship with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) - to create Stratton Oakmont Inc; a stockbroking scam company which takes money from gullible investors, most of whom fit the 'working class' bracket, and eventually, lands him the title of the 'Wolf of Wall Street'.

His first wife, Teresa, complains to him that what he is doing - in selling penny stocks to the 99% - is wrong, and begs him to use richer investors. With an aggressive sales pitch Belfort succeeds in swaying richer investors to trust him and his employee's at Stratton Oakmont Inc.

As business booms for Belfort he and his staffers regularly indulge in debauchery, morning noon and night. Belfort relies heavily on the use of drugs like cocaine and Quaaludes in order to keep his head above the stresses of his job. At a party he meets the beautiful Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) and begins an affair with her, eventuating in his divorce from Teresa. Later he and Naomi marry and purchase a house together. They also have a daughter, Skylar. However, while Belfort's life appears perfect to outsiders an FBI agent is on his trail; Belfort maintains that what he is doing is legal via several loopholes and uses his business-savvy cunning in order to keep himself, his family and his friends out of gaol.

This is an intense film; Scorsese and DiCaprio have both outdone themselves in terms of direction and performance. The crazed enthusiasm with which DiCaprio depicts Jordan Belmont is reminiscent of Jack Nicholson - he truly brings the film to life. The character of Belmont is seemingly enthralled by his own descent; he has always wanted to be a millionaire, but even after reaching that goal he is unsatisfied and so pushes himself, his employees and his wife even further. Revelling in the chaos he creates around himself, money becomes like a drug to Belmont - the pull of it creating an insatiable thirst in him: The more he makes, the more he wants.

Belmont's worshipping of cashflow eventually costs him everything; his wife, his children - and thirty-six months of his freedom when the FBI catches up to him and his scams.

The Wolf of Wall Street is both a semi-truthful story and an interesting study in human behaviour where money and power are concerned. It begs several questions of its audience, one being; why do we strive so hard for monetary gain? In the case of Jordan Belmont money was yet another high. What status does money attribute to us, as individuals? What can it help us do? How can it hurt us? And, lastly, why do we value it so highly? Is it because the value of a certain amount of cash is based in clearly-written and easily understandable terms? The Wolf of Wall Street suggests that no value is ever clear, even when stamped on the side of a green banknote.

I urge everyone to see this film. I don't know why DiCaprio hasn't won an Oscar yet, but it's about time he did.

Xo, Ellen.