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Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Wolf of Wall Street: Howling in despair

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Terence Winter, Jordan Belfort (book)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Rob Reiner, Matthew McConaughey

People who know me for the passionate Scorsese fan that I am would expect a shining review of this movie with nothing but praise and a perfect score. How I wish that was the case. Contrary to these expectations, I scrutinized the movie looking for genius but only ended up squinting at the chaos on screen.

The movie was a much awaited one with a very eye-catching trailer and a lot of expectations from the very successful Scorsese-DiCaprio duo. Eventually, donning the disguise of a “Dark Comedy”, Wolf of Wall Street gave the audience what they wanted: A drug driven laughter fest with a stellar cast putting on their best “Cerebral Palsy faces” for the camera as they pranced about the screen like underpaid circus clowns at a birthday party.

"Censors. Censors EVERYWHERE"

The movie was said to be based on the true story of Wall Street legend Jordan Belfort, his claim to fame and fortune in the stock market, and his subsequent brush with the law. Well, at least, that’s what the posters said. As the movie progresses, one becomes less and less convinced that these events haven’t been exaggerated and bloated to entertain the audience and possibly to embarrass the cast. In my experience of movies with a similar plot [1] , A middle-class protagonist makes big money through “not strictly legal” means, gets where he wants to before imploding in a flurry of drugs, women and the law. The movie was pretty much along this line but the important bits are killed by the apathetic narrative.

"So you wrote the screenplay on this thing??!"

The worst scenes:

The movie hit an absolute low when DiCaprio and Hill get into a drug-riddled tussle which drags on painfully for way too long until Hill starts choking on some food. Seeing his friend dying, DiCaprio gets inspired by the TV as it shows Popeye downing a can of spinach. So he does the same; except with a vial of cocaine down his nose. (Hang self with rope). The few others were a horribly long slow motion shot of Jonah Hill attacking DiCaprio from the back and one where Hill openly stimulates himself in the middle of a party. FULL RETARD.

Barely supported by the terrible story (even if it is a true one), the movie thrives on comedy and eye candy. I walked into the theatre thinking I’d be missing out on some good scenes because of the Censor[2]. In the second half I was thanking the stars that they weren't there. I walked in for something along the lines of The Aviator and walked out after watching a teen comedy.

The general opinion was that Leonardo DiCaprio acted brilliantly, and I agree; but his job was far too easy since all he had to do was be angry, high and mostly retarded. Fueled by a variety of drugs and possibly an annoying itch in his pants, DiCaprio goes all out in his attempts to inspire his staff by screaming into a mic. This didn't really strike a note with me after the many inspirational speeches that have graced the Hollywood screen[3]. I've never liked Jonah Hill and he was pissing me off through the entire movie with his ridiculous antics and below par acting. His work in Moneyball is the one thing I can give him credit for. Matthew McConaughey had a surprisingly short role in the movie, but in 7 minutes of screen time, he set up the Wall Street feel beautifully with his affable charm and chest-beating, surfer dude, coolness. The other characters were as insignificant as the extras in a bad mallu movie.

As the credits rolled, I read “Directed by Martin Scorsese”. I didn’t believe a word of it. The camera work was very ordinary and uninspiring. There were one or two scenes where I got a flicker of the Scorsese style but they were drowned in the whirling cesspool that was the plot. A few signature tracking shots through the crowd of employees caught my eye, but the one scene that put a smile on my face was that of DiCaprio sitting in the car after he crashed it, as his head began to bleed and the window wiper oscillated blankly, marking the end of his tryst with narcotics. Good stuff. The narrative in the background by DiCaprio was very reminiscent of Ray Liotta’s in GoodFellas although it was no match. So perhaps the Scorsese vibe was present after all. 

"Yeah i know it's crap, but just go with it!"

Now for the few things that kept me going. I liked the ending and the whole “sell me this pen” gimmick. The music was wonderfully apt and the narrative held the movie together. I also really love the Nachos at Cinepolis, City Centre. They've got different dips and sliced vegetables and everything! Oh and also, Margot Robbie: WOW

As the lights came on I was already thinking of how harsh I should be with the review, and this is as friendly as I could be. Wolf of Wall Street is worth a 360p download at best for two reasons: It sucks, and a big chunk of it is censored. Watch it for laughs. I wanted to compare it to other comedies and give it a fair score, but I've reconsidered. This was meant to be a pacey, financial drama with a feel good first half, amazing acting and top-notch cinematography. With these expectations in mind I cannot give it more than 1.5 out of 5. Fellow Scorsese followers: I feel your pain.

1: Refer "GoodFellas" by Martin Scorsese
2: Refer love scene from Scorsese's "The Departed" with Pink Floyd background music
3: Refer Alec Baldwin's awesome speech in "Glengarry Glen Ross"


  1. why bad mallu movie?

  2. Finally someone who else felt the movie was not worth the hype. All around me people are going gaga about the movie. I was pretty disappointed when I walked out of the theatre. And I didn't have the Cinepolis nachos to help!

  3. That hit the spot.Great review!


  5. pretentious review. You went expecting Wall Street and got a Fear and Loathing in LV. Lesson learned:Don't go in expecting the movie to run a certain way and come crying out when you learn that the Director has different ideas.
    Personally, I like the dark irony running through the film.

    1. Yeah that's my plight as a Scorcese fan i guess. I didn't really see any irony in it but maybe a second watch might help. :)

  6. Great review..totally agree, even though I didn't have such high expectations.

  7. reply!!!say why u said bad mallu movie???

    1. Y BAD MALLU MOVIE? OR I WILL COME TO UR ROOM AND KILL U NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. :) perfect review. You write really well. My exact feelings when I watched the movie. I was just mum thinking its dicaprio and everyone else seem to like it but viola! Your review gave me strength to say I was waiting for the seemingly endless barjatya-length movie to end.

    The way you've reviewed it, hilarious! And the comments cracked me up too ! They've made you modi. Explain everything :D

    1. Thanks for the feedback :D glad you liked it. And i'm so glad people agree with me on this. There weren't many others who did :P

  9. Thanks for the feedback everyone :)

  10. I beg to differ.. Probabaly one of Scorsese's finest.. It's as direct a portrait of the Wall Street scene in the 90s as there is, or ever will be.. Scorsese's like "Okay, here's an exact picture of how full of shit Wall Street was back then.. You make what you want of it.." That's it !
    It's an honest character study too.. Brilliant film, and typical Scorsese