The Wolf of Wall Street
4.5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Martin Scorsese
scr Terence Winter
prd Riza Aziz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joey McFarland, Martin Scorsese, Emma Tillinger Koskoff
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Cristin Milioti, Ethan Suplee
release US 25.Dec.13, UK 17.Jan.13
13/US 2h45
The Wolf of Wall Street
Show me the money: DiCaprio, Robbie and Bernthal

hill mcconaughey dujardin
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Wolf of Wall Street Scorsese shows his playful side in this fiercely entertaining true story about financial hedonism among 1980s stockbrokers. And the bravura filmmaking style is matched by a cast that goes for broke. This includes DiCaprio in his most engaging, full-on performance yet.

Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) was only 21 when he got his first job on Wall Street, and it took him less than five years to become a multi-millionaire. Tutored by a veteran (McConaughey) on how to survive exhausting hours with mass quantities of sex and drugs, Jordan leaves to start his own company with the oddball Donnie (Hill). Along the way, Jordan dumps his wife (Milioti) for a much flashier model (Robbie), whose British aunt (Lumley) helps him stash his cash with a Swiss banker (Dujardin). But an FBI agent (Chandler) is on his trail.

The film's lengthy running time may seem to mimic the excesses of these stinking rich men, but it also allows Scorsese to deploy layers of perceptive depth. Set-pieces unfurl luxuriantly, twisting from comedy to tragedy to farce as they deliver the maximum punch. Conversations play out in real time, letting us see shifts in power and relational strains in ways few movies bother to take the time to show us. Which of course lets all of the actors dive deeply into their roles.

At the centre, DiCaprio is a ball of fire, empowering everyone around him through sheer force of will. It's a strikingly high-energy performance for an actor who's usually more introspective, and he also gets under Jordan's skin to keep this essentially vile character sympathetic even as we see him charging over the precipice. Hill also taps new edges in his performance, McConaughey has the scene-stealing role, and both Dujardin and Lumley shine blazing light into their scenes. No one is likeable, but we love watching them.

Scorsese orchestrates this long, crazy story expertly, deploying Rodrigo Prieto's gleaming cinematography, Thelma Schoonmaker's inventively kinetic editing and Bob Shaw's savvy production design. This is one of Scorsese's most technically astute films yet, and it's also perhaps his most energetically gratifying work. Meanwhile, Winter's script cleverly lets us draw the parallels between the 1980s scam artists, who paid for their wicked ways with fines and prison time, and the ones 20 years later who have yet to be held responsible.

cert 18 themes, language, sexuality, drugs, violence 12.Dec.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall