Martin Scorsese is the Peter O’Toole of directors. He does great work that never got an Oscar. Nominated seven times then finally got one for a mediocre film, The Departed-2006. O’Toole was also nominated eight times and never won for a starring role.
Martin is responsible for some incredibly Oscar worthy films, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, The Aviator, Hugo. But in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, he sinks to an embarrassing De minimis, spending a lot of energy on a very bad re-do of “Wall Street: (1987).
The plot is based on the life of Jordan Belfort, who built a huge financial empire out of duping investors into buying worthless penny stocks. The film interpretation is three agonizing hours of white-collar crime, drug abuse, lust for money, tribal male bonding and open-ended debauchery that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.
Unclear if the moral issues raised in this film fall on the deaf ears of those who continue to emulate Gordon Gekko to this day. Oliver Stone didn’t think he was inventing a role model for a million young would-be finance guys, but that’s exactly what happened. One can only wonder if the real Jordan Belfort grew up in that shadow.
Leonardo de Caprio gives an exuberant performance exploring the consequences of unlimited money as a drug, to the point of exhaustion. Yes, those consequences ultimately end in death or destruction but in the end three hours of naked people emulating the Kama Sutra is a bit much. After the first two hours it becomes repetitive and exhausting.
Cameos: The real Jordan Belfort introduces Leo as Belfort the motivational speaker in the end scene.
Best scene: On the yacht when the FBI comes to visit Jordan and a fascinating conversation ensues. Scorsese at his best.
Worst facet: Three hours of repetitive debauchery becomes tedious and stale.
I give this two of five 2-million dollar one-night parties.