Saturday, 22 February 2014

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Hookers and blow. That’s my three-word synopsis for the plot of The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and directed by Martin Scorsese. It’s the true story of the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who incidentally will also be in South Africa alongside Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak for the Success Summit at the Sandton Convention centre on 1 to 2 March.

There is a lot of #OscarBuzz for Leo to snag the gold statuette for Best Actor in a Leading Role for this one, but I’m not sure if it’s deserved.

Rather than present you with Belfort’s life story, Scorsese air-drops your right into the middle of the frantic hedonism of The Wolf of Wall Street, where you might as well put your feet up and immerse yourself in for the next three hours. In fact, ‘Recreational Drugs’ should have received an opening credit. The very excess that characterised Wall Street in the early 90s is the star of this movie.

To give you an idea, it opens with a scene of midgets wearing helmets being tossed at a giant bullseye while an office of hundreds of adrenaline-rushing stockbrokers cheer them on. I’d know this is a ‘mommy blog’, so you’d be forgiven for assuming this is too much for my genteel tastes, but I love a good sex, drugs and rock ’n roll flick.

I’ve always felt that Scorsese’s true talent has been in digging into dark characters, making them relatable and human, and then juxtaposing these characters with a flawed hero. I saw nothing human in DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort, and I felt that Kyle Chandler’s character, Agent Patrick Denham, lacked depth. I could never really lose myself in their cat-and-mouse chase. To me, DiCaprio’s performance of a ludicrously wealthy, drug addicted, excess junkie was almost comical it was so over the top – it reminded me distinctly of a rubber-faced Jim Carrey back in Liar Liar.

For me the best performance was a bespectacled Johah Hill as Belfort’s partner, Donnie Azoff. It was refreshing seeing him tackle something with a little more weight than his usual fare al la Superbad.

My advice is put all thoughts of this being a Scorsese movie out of your mind when you watch The Wolf of Wall Street. Don’t overthink it, just let yourself be sucked into the crazy ride.

We watched this movie at Ster-Kinekor Cresta Centre. I am mentioning this because the seats are huge. I have sat in aeroplane seats that are smaller. Not sure if the chairs are so large and comfortable in all their cinemas, but it was a treat.

With the Academy Awards coming up coming up on 2 March, I have also watched Gravity and I think Sandra Bullock has an excellent chance of winning some gold. The only other Oscar-nominated movie I’m still dying to see is American Hustle, which opens in cinemas on 28 Feb. Both Amy Adams and Christian Bale have received Best Actor/Actress nominations, and I’m so interested to see what Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper bring to the screen - they both have been nominated in supporting roles. (Here is a list of all the nominees here.)

PS: Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau have a fun Oscar Buzz quiz up on their Facebook page. (I got 8 out of 12.) There are some cool DVD boxsets still up for grabs. 

And now, our man Leo...

Photo credit: Mary Cybulski - © 2013 Paramount Pictures.


  1. Agreed! I was so over the top and grandiose that it did not draw me in at all. I have also recently "reviewed" it on my blog and as I said there I am struggling to finish the book as well. Rolling Stone commented that it is “gleefully crass and terribly sad; you actually feel for the guy” but I think it is irritatingly obtuse and self-aggrandising. I do not feel sorry for him at all but I have also never been addicted to power or drugs so what do I know; maybe he can not help himself?

  2. Love this review - I still haven't watched it, but I fear I might be on the same wavelength as you regarding the disappointment in Scorsese. Thanks for the reminder regarding Oscars - I have some films to watch! Am dying to see Blue Jasmine.
    Have a lovely Sunday, lady x

  3. Okay I have now tried to comment three times - are you purposely deleting them Stacey? As you know I am a hoooge fan of Leo. I may be open to correction but I think he is nominated as best actor in a comedy - which is what the movie is meant to be? If you see it as a comedy it is pretty funny. I did enjoy it but see why it's polarising (for the twinset and pearls inside of all of us ;)) but I find it is quite a step out of the comfort zone for Scorsese and DiCaprio which is why in the least I respect it. However, i think you are right and he probably won't win Oscar. Even though he really does deserve one at some point in his career. PS: I have read many disappointed in American Hustle so let us know if you do get to see it what you thought. Signing off Leo for President of the World.

  4. The Wolf of Wall Street" is infectiously entertaining. It is probably the funniest movie I have seen all year with witty dialogue, over the top characters, and filled with energy that bleeds off the screen. Between all the fun however, there is also a story about addiction and how it can cause a downward spiral in your life whether it be drugs, money, or power.


Thanks for sharing, Lionheart readers. ROAR!