The Wolf of Wall Street ★★½

So what's all this then? Basically Banks of New York, with Leonardo DiCaprio as hedonistic stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the kind of guy who caused the global recession.

Here he is having an awesome time. Look at his wife. Look at his car. Look at the size of his house. Here he is snorting cocaine off a hooker's boobs. Here he is doing it another eighteen times. Here he is making money. He has lots of money.

Scorsese's admirers will tell you that the director's presenting the facts about Belfort without comment or embellishment, and letting us make up our own minds. I don't buy it. Look at the final shot of the agent assigned to Belfort's case (Kyle Chandler), then try to tell me we're supposed to be energised on his behalf, rather than gloating on his adversary's. I'm not saying Scorsese is on the side of rapacious financiers, more that the film's gleeful tone is a botch job.

The film is troubling and immoral, then, but is it any good? Not really, no. There's an unshakeable confidence about it, DiCaprio gives an assured star turn in the Catch Me If You Can mould, and there are some big laughs and good scenes, particularly near the beginning: Leo having lunch with his mentor - weird, unrepentant über-Gecko, Matthew McConaughey - aceing a penny-share sale, quizzing Jonah Hill about marrying his own cousin, and sparring with FBI agent Kyle Chandler on the deck of his gargantuan yacht. But while I chuckled a bit at DiCaprio's monstrous arrogance, there's a point where I stopped caring what was happening, or deriving any pleasure from the story. I think it was the 408th orgy.

I've seen the film compared endlessly to Goodfellas, but it's more like DePalma's wretched remake of Scarface. It's just deadeningly debauched: a three-hour, one-note exercise in coke-fuelled, fleshy excess with almost no narrative impetus, virtually nothing to say, and even a certain desperation in its supposed strong suit of comedy. Isn't it funny to chuck a dwarf around? Lol when he's on drugs DiCaprio says it's like having cerebral palsy. Now he's effectively raping a woman on a plane. What a card.

Given the critical bouquets being flung in its direction, I was expecting something special. But if you want a film that embraces con artistry, examines the American Dream, and delivers nuanced characterisation to go with its razor-sharp comedy, try Barry Levinson's eternally overlooked Tin Men, one of the great films of recent decades. Scorsese's best since Goodfellas? This is barely his best since his last film.

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