The Wolf Of Wall Street

Artwork by:  Danish Ahmad

Martin Scorsese's latest epic is a 3-hour long comedic satire on (American) greed that is filled with sex, drugs, profanities, and more sex, but at least we get a fantastic Leonardo diCaprio, and a very adventurous Scorsese. Pity that it's censored (I think) in homophobic Singapore!

However, it also gives us one of Leonardo diCaprio's - Sorcese's muse - best performances since The Aviator and Revolutionary Road, and at times it seems to be an extension of his role in Django Unchained. It looks like diCaprio may have found himself a type for which he could really excel in: the exaggerated, larger-than-life, alpha-male. Although these kind of role is unlikely to give him the Oscar that he so craves.

In addition, in this film, we also get one of Scorcese's most adventurous directing ever. The camera swoops, swirls, swipes and the pacing is actually not too bad for a 179 minutes movie. It only felt draggy towards the end, last 30 minutes, and this is a great compliment to the skill of the director. It was wise of him to choose to make this more a comedy rather than a serious drama; with the laughters and absurdities as befitting a satire, the audience gets more easily distracted. Hence too the gratuitous nudity as well as the multiple drug-infused moments. But the downside is that, there is perhaps one too many broad comedy moments - slapstick schticks - that was too long. No surprise that almost all those scenes contained Jonah Hill in them (more on him later).

Terence Winter screenplay will too get a nomination come Oscar time, but as an adapted screenplay it lags behind John Ridley's 12 Years A Slave as it ultimately lacked heart. The monologues that diCaprio give were good, well written, but it was more effective because of diCaprio's delivery and Scorcese's directing than Winter's words. Also, the plot itself lost focus and got too saddled with the debauchery. The evolution of diCaprio's protagonist from the wide-eyed country boy to the foul-mouth, multi-addict, stockbroker just happened after a smoke in the back? Neither was there much actual depiction of the crime he was charged with. Perhaps that was also Scorcese's fault.

As aforementioned, diCaprio gave a great performance. You believed him as the naive young man that he is, and you believed him as the debauched, addicted, horn dog; you laugh at him, you pity him, you believe him and you envy him. Without a doubt, he is willing to go-ugly for a scene, and his comedic timing is actually quite good. Even in the dramatic moments, diCaprio has finally gotten the hang of expressing through subtlety. Scorcese really does bring out the best in him. At times he even reminds me of a young Jack Nicholson.

Jonah Hill is an annoyance. Throughout the film. I guess you really got to be a fan of his and his genre of comedy - broad, loud and borderline slapstick. In really small doses, he is tolerable, but when his scenes get extended, with way too much improvisations, it was painful and the movie just abruptly changed gear.

A brief word on Matthew McConaughey. Spotting likely his Dallas Buyers' Club weight-loss, McConaughey is on a career-renaissance. His brief spot is actually one of the most memorable scene of the movie. And no, there isn't any sex or toplessness scene involved. Only he could make that scene as effective as it is. (Can't wait for Dallas Buyers' Club)

Kyle Chandler is sure getting a lot of these small bit roles in big movie eh? At least he is still reliable and always give a good performance. Hope he breaks out soon!

Enjoy this movie as the twisted, cautionary morality satire on Greed that it is, but taking it more than that and you will see the flaws. One of the better films of 2013/14 and may just get a nomination for Best Film but more likely based on pedigree than pure substance.

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