Somewhere between The Departed and Body of Lies Leonardo DiCaprio took a break from all the welcoming supermodel vaginas to fight off Brad Pitt for the rights to disgraced stockbroker Jordan Belfort's memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street. It's slightly ironic then, that the resulting film and the Pitt-produced 12 Years a Slave will be in three-way battle with Gravity for this year's Best Picture Oscar, and while I'd never compare this to Steve McQueen's harrowing drama, they're both an indication of how good the last year has been for films.
DiCaprio plays the titular wolf who arrives at New York's Stock Exchange as a cub in 1987 with dreams of making it big. His dreams are quickly sidetracked when the firm he works for folds after Black Monday. Married, unemployed and considering any job that pays, he finds a role at a broke-down Long Island company which deals in penny stocks; a place where his previous experience quickly makes him very rich. Rich enough to spot a way to make even more money and soon he's started his own company with a group of weirdos that goes from a glorified garage to an office big enough to house marching bands and orgies on a regular basis.
Which leads me nicely to the much-discussed excess of the film. As someone old enough to remember having stickers of Leo on her school diary (LEOMANIA 4EVAH), I like to think I've seen him do everything on screen but that theory was promptly blown to smithereens when Leo emerged from behind a lady's backside and immediately feasted on coke from a place any doctor would advise against snacking from. And if that didn't paint a clear enough picture, that's only the beginning: public masturbation, double-teaming and orgies on the floor (and on a plane) are just a few of the Caligula-like moments throughout the 3-hour running time.
But the mind-boggling backlash and many misguided fools who
falsely claim Scorsese is glamourising their abhorrent behaviour funded by innocent, but somewhat idiotic, people must be missing the point. Yes, the actions are mainly presented humorously, and yes, all the excess is so unrelenting it at times feels like a rollarcoaster ride that thrills as it nauseates, but anyone who watches this and makes Belfort their new hero probably has some issues of their own. Everyone is hideous and everything they do is awful, and even when you're guffawing at the soon-to-be-classic vintage quaalude scene, you're wondering when this will all inevitably go to shit.
Probably what's making everyone so uncomfortable is how funny, entertaining and brimming with energy it is, but it isn't Scorsese's job to condemn the characters; it's yours. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese at his best and adds yet another unexpected layer to Leo's 20+ year filmography. It's also funnier than most comedies, so it's the perfect film to watch after 12 Years a Slave devastates and leaves you, foetal-like, in the corner.