It is rather difficult to objectively assess a Martin Scorsese film, for the reason that the legendary American filmmaker has given us landmark films in the past, and I am a true fan of the maestro. There are a very few filmmakers in the world who have the reputation of giving one masterpiece per decade in the time period they have worked in. If Taxi Driver was his classic from the ’70s, and Raging Bull from the ’80s (considering the film released in 1980), which he followed up with Goodfellas in the ’90s decade, and keeping up his reputation with the brilliantly-made Departed in 2006. This time he has again collaborated with Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in their fifth movie together. The Wolf of Wall Street opened in the US on Christmas Day and has generated polarized reactions. With this movie, Scorsese has attempted the world of crime again, which he is famously known for. This time he is dealing with white-collar crime in the latest movie which boasts of a highly brilliant performance by Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role. The film is based on the memoir by the same name by Jordan Belfort, a stock broker in the ’90s who made millions, got arrested for security fraud and corruption on Wall Street and then was released from prison, thereby popularizing money mania in the US.
Scorsese tries to look inside the world of Wall Street, albeit by tracking the life of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie) who efficiently represents the thrill, energy and ambition of the stock market and the world it inhabits.Still, the vision is expressed only halfway as the film takes a monoscopic approach for a life which supposedly demanded narration as a collective result of examining the diverse social, economical and moral graph. In summary, the film is the classic rise and fall story of the stockbroker who ultimately becomes a victim of his own ambition and greed. It is not necessary that such a story should always represent the conventional moral turpitude, but as far as the The Wolf of Wall Street is concerned, the film feels as a long stack of the adventures of Jordan Belfort and its consequences. It produces thrill and generates the cocaine kick of a life in the fast lane. What is truly remarkable about the movie is that inspite of being a movie which is full of drugs, cocaine and wild parties, it manages to save itself from the glorification of such a life. But then, that is just the job half-done. The other half includes turning the film back to the audience to make them really think whether it was really worth to live a life like this? Does it have some value? The audience would have gotten their own answers only if The Wolf of Wall Street would have managed to to do that. The screenplay, written by Terrence Winter is brilliant in its absence of totality and both Scorsese and DiCaprio try to make it work fully. There is one remarkable scene in the film where the FBI officer after arresting Jordan Belfort is travelling in the train and he just watches the quiet faces of the passengers travelling in the train as if it is a sort of human reassurance of the fact that he made the life of ordinary people a little more relieved by sending ‘the wolf’ in the jail.
One thing is sure, this is certainly an Oscar-worthy performance by Leonardo DiCaprio. His histrionic skills and immense acting talent allows him to deliver brilliant performances everytime, and this time even a notch-higher than his previous performances. Acting by Jonah Hill as Donny Azoff, the friend and colleague of Jordan Belfort in the film is another highlight of this movie. His work deserves special mention too. Australian actress Margot Robbie as the beautiful trophy wife imparts sensuality and a certain need to her role. With this film too, Scorsese has tried to experiment with his signature style in order to inject the film with vigor and newness. For now, the results don’t seem as accomplished as they were aimed to be. Frequently brimming with black humor, the film does tend to bore at times for two reasons; first is the length of the movie which is close to three hours (still debatable) and secondly, because of the singular path of self gratification Jordan follows in the film. The background score is brilliant, and it selectively does justice to the movie. Still, The Wolf of Wall Street is a whole-hearted attempt which loses the energy and purpose at times, but finally manages to hold itself together. Another Departed, maybe? Can’t say yet. Only time will tell. After all, Martin Scorsese is known for that.