Renowned auteur Martin Scorsese has continuously produced films to a distinctly high level, never resting on his laurels nor showing any signs of slowing down. His cinematic fervour seems as illuminated as ever, as he manages to seem relevant and with the times, no matter the era. His latest feature, The Wolf of Wall Street is yet another symbol of such consistency, as he once again displays an aptitude to make cinema so wonderfully cinematic.
Based on a true story, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a self-made millionaire who has managed to make a fortune out of conning naïve investors, building up a notorious reputation as he leads the ultimate high life. Despite spending the vast majority of his money on feeding his addiction to drugs and sex, he marries Naomi (Margot Robbie) – though alongside his colleague and closest friend Donnie (Jonah Hill), he continues to spend his money on leisure and luxury. However the one thing he remains without, is the FBI’s approval, as his conniving methods and illegal tendencies lead to a disquieting investigation…
Although Scorsese has come under scrutiny for glamourising this effervescent and indulgent lifestyle, such criticisms are wide of the mark, as this superficial world is presented in a seedy, grotty manner, while the FBI’s investigation provides the film with a foreboding undercurrent, as you anticipate everything crashing down to reality. Nonetheless, it’s essentially a comedy – and a rather funny one at that. Scorsese has created an absurd, farcical world, where everything feels overelaborate to match the frivolous spending of our protagonist, almost like a theme park. This is a deranged and distorted take on the notion that is ‘The American Dream’.
DiCaprio turns in a career best performance, as he manages to balance not only the humorous nature of the film, but has a sinister edge to his demeanour, and you fully believe that he has the charm and charisma required to pull off his various, unethical stunts, and gain something of a cult following in the process. This lifestyle is an addiction, and it’s one that’s been wonderfully performed by our leading man. Perhaps it is that distinct charisma that keeps us on board too, as we, like his financial disciples, fall for this allurement, which is imperative, because we don’t feel a minute of this three hour adventure.