The Wolf of  Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Grade: A+

In recent years, economic disparity has permeated society’s political zeitgeist, questioning whether it is ethical for such a small percentage of the population to control so much wealth and power, while so many struggle on the way side.

Wolf of Wall Street gives a face to some of that small per cent, revealing that their wealth comes from systemic predatory exploitation of that larger per cent. Based on the autobiography by Wall Street trader Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo “I can do comedy, too” Di Caprio and helped along by Jonah “I can do drama, too” Hill, the film takes us through what can only be described as an exuberant fast-paced cartoon of a film that pulls no punches in portraying the lifestyle of these livewire tricksters and raconteurs that man the stock-trading floors of Wall Street.

We see it all: Ferraris; mansions; whores; coke; Quaaludes; midget tossing; and anything that Belfort’s band of merry (mostly) men wanted. The idea being such a fast-paced life with unlimited means will lead to desire for unrestrained consumption for these “supermen” of industry. Which leads to what has been a major criticism of the film: glorifying these actions and not depicting the faces of those that were exploited.

Warning, here lie spoilers: While there may be no narrative come-uppence for the central character, that’s kind of the bleeding point. Unrestrained capitalism leads to this gross corruption, ruthlessness and excess similar to Belfort’s. However, as a system, it seems impotent in handing out any reasonable penalty to those that exploit it. Belfort served 22 months in prison and now has to pay 50 per cent of his salary to his victims. To this day he still owes his victims over $100 million in restitutions, while he gets to live a life of relative luxury giving public speaking tours about how to sell fucking pens to New Zealanders with horrific accents. End of spoilers.

While some reviewers say this film is glorifying the actions of Belfort, I would argue those people also would say the same about a film depicting the final days of Rome. If we argue that this behaviour is unacceptable and disgusting, maybe we should look at the world that we live in.
This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2014.
Posted 6:57pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 by Alex Wilson.