Skip to content

Boys club centre of sordid tale

The Wolf of Wall Street . Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

The Wolf of Wall Street. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

Rating: 8 (out of 10)

It's like Goodfellas without the redemption, Raging Bull without the pathos: Martin Scorsese's three-hour bacchanal The Wolf of Wall Street (an apropo WOWS for short) is poised to be a hit with those folks south of the border driving around with "I miss Reagan" bumper stickers, and yet another cause for outrage among Occupy Wall Streeters.

Leonardo DiCaprio has never been better than in this real-life sordid tale of Jordan Belfort, newbie stock broker who quickly rises to the top of the dung heap, partaking of all the hookers, cocaine, Quaaludes, orgies and morality black holes that accompany such a position.

(And yes that is DiCaprio's naked bod that you see humping, drugging, and finding new uses for candles; no body-doubles here.) Jordan doesn't get there by himself: Mark Hanna is one mentor (Matthew McConaughey, stealing the show with one lunch scene), giving Jordan a version of Gordon Gecko's "greed is good" speech and schooling him on the smoke-andmirrors business of the market. Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill, great) is his equally debauched right-hand man. Watching Donnie and Jordan debate the safety concerns of dwarf-tossing in the office is one of the film's better moments.

This is a boys' club to the nth degree, so you shouldn't be shocked by the misogynist treatment of women here, who are more or less on par with the chimp Jordan parades around. Great performances by Kristin Milioti as Jordan's first wife and by Aussie actress Margot Robbie (About Time) as his inevitable, follow-up trophy wife.

It's only a matter of time before those dogged feds come calling (Kyle Chandler, playing to type again).

Jordan's answer is to throw drinks and money their way. The game all comes crashing down, but we don't feel sorry for any of the players.

Based on Belfort's 2007 memoir and a screenplay by Terrence Winters, who knows a thing or two about excess, having written for both Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos. Don't hold your breath waiting for a point; the film is the antithesis of a cautionary tale. Belfort spent less than two years in prison for bilking investors out of millions in bogus stocks; he then went on to be a massively popular motivational speaker. (His fee range is listed with a coy "please enquire" on the Keppler Speakers website.) And so WOWS really only exists to feed our fascination with the megarich, three hours of shock-and-awe excess. The film features some virtuoso performances, no doubt, and it's certainly Scorsese's best film since The Departed. But be warned: it may take you longer than three hours to get the stench off.