Of all the excess bursting from the frame in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, what’s missing is a trip to the normal world. That’s because, who would honestly want to go there? Jordan Belfort certainly doesn’t, but that inability to show the other side of the fence may be part of “Wolf’s” problem.
Martin Scorsese’s film about a real life Wall Street broker who swindled millions from clueless investors in fraudulent stocks and led his firm into a tailspin of sex, drugs and corruption has received a notable amount of criticism; perhaps such a crook doesn’t deserve a wacky, fun biopic based on his life, the critics say.
The question goes, does “The Wolf of Wall Street” glorify the actions of Jordan Belfort? In one way, yes. Jordan’s behavior in the real world is nothing but obscene, and Scorsese gives us three hours to revel in this wild peek behind the curtain.
But in Belfort’s world, this is the norm. The sex romps, the montages and the drug trips all blend together over time, and it provides all the more jolt when in a bizarre twist, something from “fucking Benihana” brings him down.
Scorsese’s film makes “Spring Breakers” look tame in comparison. It languishes on each wild act of depravity and sensationalized moment of mayhem, immersing us in Belfort’s world and his narrative revisionism (“My Ferrari was white, not red,” he barks in narration at the open of the film) without any of the context of the people who aren’t making $49 million a year.
But one wonders what can be gained from a film that shares the same lack of nuances as its perverse characters. Even James Franco’s Alien had some layers to him, but Belfort is all haircut and a sales pitch.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” constantly borders that fine line between exploitation and poignant satire. Like Jordan’s life itself, the movie plays like a mess of outrageous set pieces connected only by their sheer energy. It grasps at the political, psychological and philosophical straws snagged by “Spring Breakers,” “The Bling Ring,” “American Hustle” and even Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” but lacks the specifically distinct aesthetic style all of those films had that would give it an extra kick. Continue reading “The Wolf of Wall Street”