Described by some as a ‘’dark comedy’’ because of its dubious morals, The Wolf of Wallstreet was released on Christmas Day, 2013. Directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jorden Belfort; a real-life New York stockbroker from the 90s whose memoirs provide the basis of the film’s plot. DiCaprio won a Golden Globe for his honest and versatile performance and the film has achieved critical acclaim, along with several other prestigious nominations.
Jorden Belfort epitomises the ‘’arsehole hero’’ that you both love and hate. He’s cocky, arrogant, selfish, devoid of any morals, charismatic and outstanding at what he does.
At the beginning of the film he gets a job with a Wall Street firm that unexpectedly goes bust. After impressing everyone with his hard-sell bullshit-tactics, he is soon rolling in ‘it’. He befriends the oddball Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill) and they set up the lavishly named Stratton Oakmont, which quickly begins making millions and the company swells in size and notoriety. The middle of the film is practically a montage of dollar bills, cocaine, prostitutes, yachts and suited men shouting down phones.
Jorden ditches his wife for the Barbie-doll beauty Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie) and they marry and have a daughter. This doesn’t stop the hordes of strippers and tonnes of coke apparently necessary for Startton Oakmont to function at full capacity. It turns out the firm is operating way outside the law, and soon the FBI are on the scene. Lots of drama, corruption, tale telling and selling-out occurs.
In terms of cinematography, this is definitely a good film, and well worth a watch. But if you’re anything like me it will annoy you repeatedly. For a start, I thought the film was extremely sexist. Around 90% of the women are strippers or prostitutes, which are always both naked and mute. The only actual female characters are both Jorden’s wives and Donnie’s wife. His first wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) and his second Naomi both deserve some girl-power credit, but only because they both eventually demand a divorce. Naomi is practically a trophy wife and Jorden appears to only ‘’love’’ her because she’s a hot blonde bombshell who just happens to have Swedish banking connections!
Even leaving the misogyny aside, the Wolf of Wallstreet still upholds some pretty shocking ideals. For a start, Jorden doesn’t think twice about ripping off his clients and making toxic deals. Getting filthy rich off other people’s misery doesn’t appear to be a problem for this man. In fact, he loves every second of his decedent lifestyle. One scene in particular springs to mind: a ‘’work do’’ that involves a yacht and a flock of strippers and millionaires tossing dollar bills everywhere. The waste, the arrogance and the sordid celebration of rampant consumerism is obscene. Worse still, our protagonist never has a change of heart. Everything bad that happens to him just happens to turn out okay, or even better, in the end. He’s blessed with not only eye-popping riches he doesn’t deserve, but buckets of luck as well!
This film just makes you think “hell, life really isn’t fair”. And I suppose there’s something to be said for happy endings and morals being old fashioned, a bit twee and – sadly – unrealistic. But I think there’s still a natural desire for a ‘baddie’ to get his comeuppance.
I really hope Scorsese meant this film to be an irony, a sarcastic celebration of Wall Street that actually serves to make viewers consider what a corrupt establishment it is.
But, as it stands, it could just as easily be a perverse glorification of societies’ materialistic values, and what it takes to make it big in a consumer-crazed culture.
Written by Tegan Tallullah