The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★

Obviously, the circumstances under which one watches a film on a plane are not ideal circumstances under which to watch a film. But I am sure that whatever problems I had with The Wolf of Wall Street, I would have had anyway, had I been watching it in a cinema or on TV etc.

The flight from London Heathrow to Boston Logan International takes approximately six-and-a-half hours. The first film I watched was The Wolf of Wall Street. By the time it'd finished, it felt like the we should already have been arriving in Boston. It's way too long. Way way too long. It's so long I actually got quite bored. There's so much stuff in it that doesn't need to be there. It should have been at least 45 minutes shorter. The fact I was bored wasn't helped by the fact that I just simply didn't care about Jordan Belfort. All I wanted was for him to be arrested and for the film to be over. The most I ever cared about any of the characters was the scene where Belfort's first wife finds him with Naomi (Margot Robbie), but that might be because I fucking love Cristin Milioti. Still, I felt that, in the end, Belfort got off a bit too lightly. I don't want to go into the whole "Did they explore or exploit that lifestyle?" shenanigans, but I did feel that Scorsese and particularly Leonardo DiCaprio liked Belfort a little bit too much. I thought he was vile.

And that made me wonder why so many people love the film so much. And I came to the conclusion that it could be any of the following reasons:

a) Leonardo DiCaprio's powerhouse performance. He puts everything into it, but he can't make Belfort likeable.
b) Martin Scorsese's direction.
c) The film's energy, of which there is quite a lot, but that gets lost the longer the film goes on. No one, not even Martin Scorsese, can keep that energy level going for three hours. But the fact that they try to keep the energy going become head-bangingly irritating.
d) Pure entertainment.

The last part suggests that the film doesn't explore the lifestyle of Belfort and his associates. And to be honest, it doesn't. That's not to say it is necessarily exploits it, but it doesn't delve particularly deep - there is definitely a style over substance problem.

In fact, the more I've thought about the film, the less I liked it. It was, when I finished it, a three-star film. But upon reflection, I've had to downgrade it. It's not necessarily a badly made film, but I think the rating reflects my enjoyment more than what I thought of the film itself, though it is deeply flawed. To be fair, DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey and Kyle Chandler are all very good, Terence Winter's script has some good moments and Scorsese's direction has its usual flair. But the few female characters are sorely underwritten to the point where it becomes questionable, and the film never justifies its running-time. I wanted to like it more, but I just found it incredibly overhyped and, at times, intensely annoying. Disappointing.

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