The Wolf of Wall Street

December 2013

I have no doubt that high-rolling stock brokers live the way Leonardo DiCaprio’s character,  Jordan Belfort, does in this film.  I also have no doubt that, like Burt Lancaster’s Elmer Gantry, they actually believe their own hype.  They believe that making money selling dreams is okay even if they also know the dream is more of a nightmare.  And I have no doubt that cocaine, alcohol and pot are common ingredients at parties among this strange breed of humans.

I also have no doubt that Martin Scorcese is an overrated director.  He has some good visual techniques and some story telling ability, but he doesn’t know when to stop and he has shown this over and over in his films.  Even Goodfellas, which was, arguably, his best, went on too long.  The Wolf of Wall Street goes on WAY too long.  Three hours to tell this story?  I don’t think so.  He just doesn’t know when to quit.  And that is essential in every art form.  Whether you paint, or write songs or books or plays or make movies, you have to know when to quit. 

On the bright side, Leonardo DiCaprio is one of our best actors.  He takes this role and plays it with such range that I doubt there is any role he could not handle.  When he is a hyped up con-man, or pleading lover or scheming employer, he is utterly believable.  A decent – although imperfect – support cast carries it along, but there is no doubt that it is Leo’s show.  See it for his performance, if see it you must, but expect to want it to end long before it does.

Two stars is all I can give The Wolf of Wall Street, and if it weren’t for DiCaprio’s stellar performance even that would be too high.