“The Wolf of Wall Street” is a film — no, a movie — of utter inconsequence. As it follows the real-life rise and fall of billionaire stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the movie presents to its viewers “a greed fest with equal parts cocaine, testosterone, and body fluids,” as Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) carefully puts it. This is certainly no exaggeration. The movie rolls naked on the floor in absurdity, most often manifest in an insatiable and uncontrolled animosity among the brokers. At one point, the conclusion of just-another-day-at-the-office, a high school marching band crashes, whip-boom-banging, through the firm’s double-doors and begins performing, straight-faced and clad only in their own grey undergarments, among an ocean of giddy brokers. Gold confetti and hookers soon follow.
Belfort’s mad world is no doubt entertaining, but, with a run-time of three hours, the film needs much more than antics to hold the audience’s interest. Unfortunately, this is where the film fails most.
A strung-out Belfort made eyes at an exceedingly attractive blonde woman, much to the dismay of Belfort’s wife, during one of his wild house parties. This is when I decided to leave my seat and purchase an ICEE and bag of M&Ms; at a total of $10.25, perhaps I, too, thought myself fit for snorting cocaine through hundred dollar bills, crumpling them up and nonchalantly tossing them into waste bins! When I returned to my seat only minutes later, Belfort had just finished taking advantage of the very woman he’d met not a few minutes before, clearly an immoral operation not unlike Belfort’s many dishonest business practices. But this is a case in point. Where the movie fails is a lack of story. Surely director Martin Scorsese’s intention was to point out the absurdity and greed that was Wall Street at the time — and perhaps still is — but he does so at expense of a compelling story. By the end of the film, I was left unsatisfied and not more cognizant of my own thoughts and the world around me than I was when I walked into the theatre three hours before.
But there is one area, and one alone, where the film succeeds in standing out among the throngs of others we’ll encounter this Oscar season: and this is acting. If anyone’s a Wolf in Hollywood right now it’s Leo DiCaprio. He makes Belfort tear through whatever inadequate mental barriers we and the brokers have and convinces us that we are kings, proud and invigorated in our mindless slaughter of innocent investors, that “we gotta run, we gotta run like lions and tigers and bears!” as Belfort screams in one of his early motivational speeches. DiCaprio roars across the screen with all-too inhuman fervor and with words to move mountains, let alone men. Every fiber of the brokers’ beings are moved to action by Belfort’s battle-cries — I must admit that I, too, felt the urge to jump out of my seat and yell with him!
But it must again be stated that, although DiCaprio’s performance is amazing and the obscenities sometimes entertaining, they alone are not enough to carry a film that, unfortunately, had the potential to be a great one.