The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★½

Direction: ★★★★
Scorsese transforms a biography into something refreshing and alive, obscene and entertaining, but filled with immoralities. I think this is too long and slightly inconsistent, but overall Scorsese is improving what I found a terrible 21st Century start for him. (I mean how terrible was Gangs of New York and how tiresome was The Aviator? Even The Departed and Shutter Island were mediocre little films with no real power or interest. And Hugo, while entertaining, was manipulative and slightly preposterous.)

Story/Screenplay: ★★★½
Terrence Winter adapted Jordan Belfort's biography into a film about sex, money and drugs. His dialog is fucked-up, grotesque and damn funny. But he keeps the arc very formulaic resembling every other biography made the past few years in terms of script. Lots of scenes are simply repetitive and meaningless and some don't even try to be funny. Plus he made it three hours long - which for a biography is extremely short and long.

Acting: ★★★★
I must admit I've never been a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, I just haven't liked his career-choices and performances over the years. But damn I loved him in this. He fully embraces and tackles this complex character, never breaks off the role and keeps Jordan Belfort as exciting and real and funny as he can be. On the other hand, I've always sympathized with Jonah Hill, and here he surprises me again with a hilarious, jaunty role.

Visuals/Cinematography: ★★★★
I liked how colorful and sumptuous the photography kept throughout the film, but after a while even the visuals were too much. Plus, is it really shot to look like any of it happened in the 80's? It's full of obvious 21st Century imagery that doesn't even try to look like the 80's/90's. On the bright side, the camera movement was vivacious, breathing and exciting (the cinematographer was Rodrigo Pietro).

Editing/Pacing: ★★★★
I really loved and hated the editing of The Wolf of Wall Street. Its quick, sharp cuts keep it fresh and alive; the slow-motion shots give it both a funny and a ridiculous music-video feel; the breaking-of-the-fourth-wall shots are great, but are always cut off with a preposterous explanation like "who cares about how Wall Street works?! You wouldn't understand any of it anyway with your little brain and I'm sure you prefer to watch me do drugs and hookers for the rest of the film, right?" That part really annoyed me. Plus I think it's twenty minutes too long. Thelma Schoonmaker makes an effort to match the editing with the film's whole feel, but it comes off as wobbly. As for an example of a scene that presented a brilliant editing choice there is the one where Jordan is so drugged he can't walk so he decides to crawl to his car. This is a scene with about three or four minutes and the fact that it's hilarious is elevated into a satirical, sad moment because they choose to keep it running for so long.

Sound/Music: ★★★½
Pretty inconsistent musical choices: sometimes amazing classics like Dust My Broom (Elmore James) and Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You (from Jimmy Castor), that resemble Mean Streets' splendid Rubber Biscuit. Other times awful hits (mainly Foo Fighters' Everlong) that broke the mood completely.

Overall Rating: ★★★½
Scorsese delivers an intoxicating, provocative three-hour-long film about sex, drugs, money and power, but it has a big main problem: is it satire or propaganda? I'm more inclined to the first option, but surely Scorsese hasn't made it all clear which of the two he wanted to achieve with The Wolf of Wall Street.