Mon 24 Feb 2014
‘Inspired by a true story’ seems indeed to be the mantra for the majority of the films in the Academy Awards race this year. A few days ago I saw ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and now this ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ which together with ‘American Hustle’ are among the strongest competitors in the race and are all inspired by biographies and true stories that took place in the last few decades of the previous century. Even ’12 Years a Slave’ is inspired by a true story and biography but from the previous century. While I liked much less ‘Dallas’ I feel ‘The Wolf’ is quite comparable – both are remarkable movies, both throw light on some dirty and corrupt aspects of the American society, both bring to stage characters which use and trick the system at the same time. While ‘Hustle’ has a more original idea, ‘The Wolf’ has Scorsese and DiCaprio.
The real life Jordan Belfort is probably a much less likeable character than the one brought to screen by Leo. He made his fortune in the 80s and early 90s by pulling the strings and walking the dark alleys of a system which was building financial castles on sand and where the real money was made almost exclusively by people like him. The whole movie can be actually considered as a sharp critical view of a society that creates and makes heroes of such individuals. This is however a moral judgment and it belongs exclusively to the viewers – actually the film makers were quite insistent that the many scenes of debauchery in the film were as close to what really took place in Belford’s corrupt empire and faithful to episodes from his auto-biographical book. Scorsese can use the excuse that he just makes a film which is fun, interesting, entertaining based on the real life story and the conclusions are yours, Mrs. or Mr. Viewer.
It’s rather amazing for me that things that I really dislike in other movies work so well under the hand of Scorsese. The use of the out-screen voice for example which I typically hate works here pretty well, as it gives an auto-biography touch to the whole story. I would hardly bear three hours in a cinema theater if it was not a very well told story, with heroes and action that keep me quiet in the chair. Leonardo DiCaprio amazes me again and again, especially when Scorsese directs him. His hero is mean and cynical and does abhorrent things and yet he is simply fascinating. The most questionable thing in the film seemed to the ending, which I frankly did not understand. Maybe it tried to make a point that I missed, maybe it just described the anti-climatic years of the rest of the life of an individual past his wild years – I do not know. It came however too late to spoil my immense appreciation for this film.