Enjoying a ride isn’t the same as endorsing it
The moment when Jordan Belfort grabbed the dwarf to throw him at a target board I knew where I had him.
People who take pleasure in dwarf tossing you get no love from me. Not that Jordan Belfort needed it. Right from the start it was clear that he was so full of his love for money, drugs and himself, that there wasn’t room for anything else.
I thought I knew what I was in for as I went out on the three hour long ride that is The Wolf of Wall Street. I knew that I would travel in company with a man who was ruthless, boundless and careless – a psychopath, who I wouldn’t want to come near if I met him in real life. Judging from the trailer it looked as if it might get a bit crazy on the way.
But I don’t think I was prepared for how hedonistic the film would be. I knew it would be explicit, but not that it would more or less 180 minutes of sex and drug orgies.
180 minutes of orgies
People have group sex at the office with prostitutes. They’re both snorting cocaine and blowing it into each other’s unmentionable body parts and they’re masturbating publicly. They’re on a constant high, each one of them a chemical plant on legs. I didn’t count, but someone else did, and found 569 uses of the f-word in this film, which makes three times a minute. And it would be more if it wasn’t for all those scenes where they’re too stoned to speak a word.
The mass scenes in the office spays are spectacular, reminding me of the visual joy of The Great Gatsby, although Gatsby’s parties appear small and tidy in comparison.
Of course I enjoyed watching this! The three hours were over before I knew it, not the least because it’s so darkly funny most of the time. There’s especially one scene that will be a competitor for the title “most memorable scene of the year”. It’s when diCaprio gets to show his talent for physical comedy, which I wasn’t aware of that he had. He’s on the level of Rowan Atkinson in body language and control as he – I don’t know how to describe this – is floating down a stair, like a piece of slime, since he’s too high on drugs to even crawl properly. I just couldn’t stop laughing.
The question is if the fact that the movie is so entertaining somehow puts Jordan Belfort, who is a real person, in better light. Is he glorified by this film? Some critics have suggested this, but I disagree. Just because you enjoy a ride, it doesn’t mean that you endorse it.
It’s true that The Wolf of Wall Street doesn’t spend a lot of time with those who have paid the price for the orgies in the office at Wall Street – their families and their customers – people with ordinary jobs who lost their savings because they were lied to, cheated and manipulated by Belfort and his colleagues. But the audience isn’t more stupid than that they realize this. We can figure out that there are for every win they make, there’s a victim. We don’t have any doubt about that Belfort is a bad person. Bad as in “bad bad”. He’s not a bad guy with a good heart, who will learn and get better. He’s just someone who has done terrible things and who wouldn’t hesitate to keep doing them if he could gain from it. Without giving away what happens in the end, I’d say that I interpret it as a dark, cynical and satire comment on the state of the world.
I too get sick though thinking about the fact that Belfort actually appears in this film in a cameo and that he will money on it, since it’s based on his book, which he already gets a lot of money from, while, from what I’ve heard in media, his victims still haven’t gotten their money back. But in the end, it would be wrong to let this knowledge affect how I judge The Wolf of Wall Street as a movie.
I had a blast and I would recommend others to see it. Just don’t bring your parents or children with you. This is one you want to see on your own.
The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, US 2013) My rating: 4,5/5
I watched The Wolf of Wall Street alongside with the Swedish bloggers in Filmspanarna. Here are links to the posts by my fellow bloggers: