Risky Business – ★★★★★
Dylan Moran has a routine where he questions people’s outrage at celebrities being discovered doing drugs with prostitutes in hotel rooms. How the scorn is perhaps just masking jealousy. We all live within the boundaries of our life and in Martin Scorsese’s latest feature The Wolf of Wall Street he examines the excess a man can go to when these boundaries are removed.
Scorsese’s muse Leonardo DiCaprio plays the wolf by the name of Jordan Belfort. A self made man who worked his way up selling penny stocks where the commission was 50%, to floating companies on the stock market. He made more money than he knew what to do with and had one hell of a time trying to spend it. His partner in crime was Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill who is outstanding and almost unrecognisable. Between them they establish an empire where the main aim is to always get the client reinvesting and never let them cash out. Hill and DiCaprio are the perfect duo complimenting each other like a veritable Laurel and Hardy. Slipping further down the rabbit hole of drink, drugs and sex it starts to come tumbling down and it isn’t long before the FBI are knocking at their door.
The film is peppered with cameos; Matthew McConaughey as a stock guru, Rob Reiner as Belfort’s father, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Spike Jonze and the man himself Jordan Belfort. For however little they are in it they none the less serve a purpose and do a fantastic job. The film is all about DiCaprio with barely any scenes that he isn’t present in. He pulls it off without a hitch although he may be in danger of type-casting as the go to guy for outbursts of rage and unhinged (Django Unchained, The Great Gatsby).
The film fails the Bechdel test with flying colours. It has more than one woman character certainly but there isn’t one conversation between them. Margot Robbie playing DiCaprio’s wife is the only female character of note and within about ten minutes is completely naked. She has no conversations with any other females, which would be hard as they are mainly all prostitutes but she certainly has all the power when it comes to the bedroom. The film has come under a lot of criticism for its depiction of sex and drugs and certainly deserves its 18 certificate. Scorsese and the actors have come out saying to gloss over the way these people behaved and their ethos would be a failure on their parts. You have to agree with this logic and yes the majority of the male cast are chauvinist pigs on the verge of exploding in a cloud of testosterone which makes for some very unpleasant viewing at times but it would be a lie to pretend they actually cared about women.
You may see Belfort as a God, someone to be exalted and worshipped. He had it all; money, sex, drugs, fast cars, a beautiful family and any woman he wanted. You may see him as a piece of shit dirt bag who treated women like playthings for his own amusement and someone who couldn’t give a damn about the working class people he was scamming. However you won’t be told which Belfort to believe in, his crimes, attitudes and habits are laid out for all to judge and you have the final say.
It is only the 17th of January and you will certainly not see a film like this for the rest of the year. At just shy of three hours you still leave the cinema wanting more. Full of some of the funniest set pieces committed to screen in years thanks no doubt to Terence Winter’s screenplay you can understand its inclusion in the ridiculous Musical/Comedy category at the recent Golden Globes.
At 71 years of age and approaching 50 years in the business Scorsese is astonishing and able to tackle any story with gusto. The Wolf of Wall Street is his best since The Departed back in 2006 and his most outrageous film ever, a must see.