It was with much anticipation that I set out to watch ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ on Friday afternoon with my boyfriend -and showcasing the talents of Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese – we assumed it’s brilliance – picking to watch the aforementioned over the much acclaimed ‘12 Years a Slave.’ But 1 an an half hours into the film, it was clear the excitement had vanished and was instead replaced with bored shuffling in the seat, fidgeting, trips to get more popcorn, and confusion at how such a well-praised film, could have left us both this disappointed! Now, i i may, I will take the time to explain why!
The Wolf of Wall Street is another typical ‘wall-street’ tale, no different from the other ‘wall-street’ tales which we have been previously told. In light of this, the narrative is thus both predictive and tedious, as the audience waits (…and waits, and waits) for the narrative spectacular, the plot twist to wall-street which we have never before seen, and as the tone of this piece suggests, it never arrives! Upon leaving the cinema (early, i may add) i ask myself why the narrative doesn’t allow Mr. Belfort to realize that his greedy, indulgent personality is distasteful, and thus gives his money back to those whom he originally ‘ripped off’ using the pink-paper stocks and the ‘pump and dump’ scheme? One can only wonder why ‘the wolf’ didn’t strive to break the wall-street narrative norms.
Arguably however, the narrative is only the tip of the ice-burg when it comes to discussing the failures within this film. The main characters within this film – Jordan Belfort and Donnie Azoff (DiCaprio and Jonah Hill respectively) – are both anti-hero’s , followed throughout the narrative as they snort white powder, swear a record-breaking number of times, and indulge in orgies, sexist behavior and display their materialistic nature through their greed. In light of this behavior we are neither drawn to like, nor can we relate to Jordan or his associates. Consequently characters such as these are extremely unlikable, and unlikable characters become boring and almost two quickly. Despite the way in which the characters are portrayed, the acting must be given credit, as Jonah Hill solidifies his versatility within Hollywood. None the less, this positive is over-looked, as leaving the cinema, the audience is left disgusted at the chauvinistic behavior which was displayed.
But the characterization, while a major problem within the film for me, so too is the portrayal of women within the film. With a few exceptions, all the females within the film are sex-workers, wives or girlfriends, and all these women are upsettingly treated with little or no respect, and are rated by Belfort by their sexual behavior and their looks. While Joanna Lumley makes an appearance, attempting to bring a bit of class to the female gender, even she is later found to be a sexual object of desire, with only two purposes for Jordan, to sleep with, and to transport money to Switzerland. Likewise the glimpse of a successful female stock-broker, Kimmie Belzer, towards the end of the film, for me only highlights the sexist approach the rest of the film has taken.
Saying all this, by the end of the film, it would be true to say, I wish i had left earlier. The narrative was uninspiring, the characterization left much to be desired, and the sexist approach to women left me disgusted. One can only hope that after seeing this film, you do not wish to change career to become a wall-street stockbroker!