Monday, October 10, 2016
The Wolf of Wall Street
A chronicle of life of Jordan Belfort. In '87, Jordan gets a job as a stockbroker on Wall Street, falling under the influence of Mark who tells him his job is to exploit the greed of buyers and persuade them to buy as many stocks as possible, and never sell them. However, the Black Monday crash leaves Jordan unepmoyed. He finds a job as a stockbroker on Long Island selling worthless "penny stocks" to middle class. However, he decides to sell to the upper class, founds his own company, "Stratton Oakmont" and uses a "pump and dump" scheme to get rich selling stocks. His partner becomes Donnie, while he marries blond Naomi. Jordan is investigated by the FBI for possible fraud, and thus deposits his money in a Swiss bank. He becomes a greedy slob, wasting money on drugs. He is finally arrested by the FBI, pleads guilty in '99 for stock market manipulation, snitches his co-workers and is sentenced to 3 years.
Martin Scorsese's 23rd feature length film, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is one of several films that tackled the topic of finances and the stock market in the early 21st century, offering once again the master director's energetic, dazzling, risky style, yet a one that seems to have become slightly routine and predictable by this time. Basically, "The Wolf of Wall Street" is Scorsese's "Goodfellas" set in the financial world, and the storyline seems to follow the "rise-and-fall-and regret" scheme of the '90 film too closely - just like Henry Hill narrates his own life, from his first entry into the shady business, through the decadence of his business partners, up to his decision to cooperate with the authorities to catch the mafia, so does Jordan Belfort parallel the same old scheme with his life, and this seems like a rehash of old stereotypes, with only a few new ingredients in the recipe. Still, the first third of the film is excellent, a highly electrifying experience that shows Scorsese's morality play that arrives only after a very long period of darkness: take for instance the sequence where Jordan is asking Naomi to marry him - he is not proposing, he is basically buying her. The fact that he dumped his wife for her, a supermodel, and she dumped her boyfriend just to be with a rich 'sugar daddy', already undermines their misguided relationship without any true heart or love. Another good example is the sequence that shows how all of Jordan's employees are selling stocks over the phone to clients according to the same script, even turning pages away, while the camera cuts to another employee to finish the previous one's sentence. For Scorsese, these people became some sort of "financial Goreshists": they have too much money, and yet they want even more, which leads to endless arrogance and egoism, until this world collapses from gluttony, decadence and greed. He of course showed a lot of sequences involving drugs and sex, to demonstrate the appeal of the life of the anti-hero. The sequence where Jordan is drugged and has to crawl to his car and to his home because he is almost immobilised from the substance, is a little bit too much, though, and tells its message in a too explicit, uneven manner. A good, though overlong film that tends to repeat itself in the last third.