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Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

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Rosy Blake finds an unsettling moral message at the heart of Oscar-tipped The Wolf of Wall Street.

After seeing the ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ I was disappointed at the frustration I felt, but I’m now beginning to wonder whether that was the reaction Scorsese was trying to get from me all along.

Image credit: Hollywood Reporter
Image credit: Hollywood Reporter

Based on his own memoir, the film follows the rise and fall of Jordan Belford (Leonardo di Caprio), a charismatic stock broker who founds his own brokerage firm, which, to put it mildly, does not operate entirely within the law.

The film depicts Belford’s ridiculously lavish and hedonistic lifestyle… excessively.  Most of the three hours is spent watching di Caprio snorting lines of cocaine, driving private helicopters, hosting office parties full of hookers, consuming numerous bottles of Quaaludes and generally indulging in every material extravagance money can buy. It could probably have been cut short by an hour and told the same story, although even the most ridiculous parts of the film are taken from his memoir; he did actually have to be rescued by the Italian navy after his multi-million dollar boat got caught in a storm.

Yet, with the recent financial crisis still fresh in the minds of many, the fact that the film seems to celebrate rather than condemn Belford’s actions is frustrating. Anyone would believe that if you’re clever enough, you can live such a lifestyle at the expense of society and essentially get away with it (spending a mere 22 months in prison) simply by betraying your friends.

Perhaps the unsavoury taste left in my mouth as the credits rolled in was exactly the message I was supposed to take away – that these things happen in the world of finance and that, in some cases, it is all too easy to get away with it.

Rosy Blake

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