Monday, January 6, 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street
Why? You ask yourself, and the answer has to be Leonardo DiCaprio! Every director needs his muse, and I can’t imagine a better actor-director combination than this one. From Gangs of New York to Aviator to The Departed to Shutter Island, the duo has conquered the imagination of millions of movie buffs worldwide, while garnering critical acclaim at the same time.
The latest in the offering is The Wolf of the Wall Street, and trust me when I say that it kept me riveted at every frame. At almost three hours, it was as long as your average Suraj Barjatya family drama, but not for one moment did I feel that the pace was slacking or the editing could have been better or a particular scene was not required. If anything, I cursed the prudish Censor boards for snipping off six minutes of the movie in order to ‘placate Indian sensibilities’. Anyway it’s an R-rated movie, anyway it’s meant for an adults-only audience and anyway it’s not exactly prime time family viewing material: then who are you exactly protecting by those unjustified cuts? Your inner moral police?
Having said that, I don’t think those additional six minutes would have made much difference to my opinion about the movie. I loved every bit of it: the sharp dialogues, the over-the-top sales pitches, the debauchery that comes with obscene amounts of money, the excessive substance abuse, the scandalous lifestyle, not to mention the single-minded focus on greed.
But most of all, I loved Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort. It’s never easy to portray a real-life character, especially if he is very much alive. Some of my favourite movies are biopics and in each case, the lead actor simply rises to the challenge: think Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), Sean Penn (Milk), Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness and Ali), Adrian Brody (The Pianist) or Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind). DiCaprio himself has done it so many times before in Aviator, Catch Me If You Can, J. Edgar, The Basketball Diaries, Total Eclipse and This Boy’s Life, but in this movie, he IS the Wolf of the Wall Street.
For someone who works in an investment bank and is fairly close to the world of unscrupulous bankers, the movie is hardly an eye-opener, rather a confirmation of the widely-known but less acknowledged malpractices. But without getting into a moral argument, without being judgemental and without going in the rights and wrongs of the game, I look at it from the purely entertainment point of view, and as far as entertainers go, this one is right up there.
Wall Street is indeed packed with wolves, but none more exciting, more charismatic and more captivating than this one…