Film: The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)

Scorsese’s latest film may be brash, sexist, drug-addled and reckless – but don’t hold that against it

-Kathryn Bromwich


Scene one: a raucous office party culminates in a midget-throwing competition. Scene two: Leonardo DiCaprio blows cocaine into a prostitute’s arse. We couldn’t be further away from Martin Scorsese’s last film Hugo, a gentle, whimsical paean to early cinema’s Georges Méliès. Eventually cut to under three hours after a tortuous development process marked by funding problems, this film about excess examines why the stock market went wrong.

It turns out, it went wrong in a haze of orgies, yachts and cocaine. DiCaprio looks as if he was born to play the slick, charming and morally repulsive stockbroker Jordan Belfort, on whose memoir the film is based. Gross-out comedy star Jonah Hill’s slapstick talents work surprisingly well alongside the acting heavyweight as his fun-loving business partner Donnie Azoff. The duo swing from frenzied “Greed is good” speeches reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s Gordon Gekko to the drug-crazed antics of 80’s stoners Bill & Ted, including a memorable scene where they writhe around in a Quaalude-induced stupor.

The supporting cast go to town on the “sleazy banker” roles: Jean Dujardin is deliciously seedy as a corrupt Swiss banker, and Matthew McConaughey delivers a seven-minute performance of borderline-insane virile overload. In this testosterone-fuelled world, female characters are confined to the binary roles of “hot babe” and “nagging wife”, occasionally combining the two functions.

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