MY WEEK (May 29, 2014): Film looks at wolf’s hunger for money and power

Once in a while, I really feel like enjoying some gentle and wholesome forms of entertainment.

Monday, 2nd June 2014, 2:54 pm
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street

The other week, for example, I drove out to the picturesque village of Ewhurst to watch the Ewhurst Players celebrate their 40th anniversary with three charming one-act plays (page 6).

The whole event was an innocent evening of theatre, enhanced by some delicious food between performances.

However, as pleasant as all this was, I couldn’t resist indulging in some less-than-wholesome entertainment at the Bank Holiday weekend.

After months of hearing how ‘unmissable’ it was, I finally got around to watching The Wolf of Wall Street on DVD.

And my opinion? Well, where do I start? Firstly, I should say that it’s one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen with Leonardo DiCaprio on sensational form as New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

From Belfort’s outrageous bed-hopping shenanigans to his ridiculous, drug-fuelled parties with his comrade Donnie Azoff (possibly the best Jonah Hill performance ever) this film is a hysterical adaptation of an unbelievable story.

To complain that the amount of naughtiness and substance abuse in the movie is excessive would be missing the point entirely. This is a study of people who just cannot get enough. Absurdly high incomes and increasingly decadent lifestyles simply fuel the desire for more, more, more. Money is Belfort’s real drug of choice and he pursues it relentlessly and irrationally.

As grotesque as it all is, Belfort’s wide-eyed energy encourages the viewer to side with him. It’s really quite annoying when FBI agents show up and start spoiling the fun.

The film’s supporting actors do brilliantly, competing with DiCaprio’s powerhouse performance. Rob Reiner offers believable warmth as Belfort’s father, while Matthew McConaughey puts in a sleazily eccentric display as his mentor Mark Hanna – a man whose money obsession has left him with some bizarre habits. Joanna Lumley also delights in a small but significant role.

The whole thing looks great too – as glossy and artificial as one of Belfort’s sales pitches. Even dreary old London appears bathed in Hollywood sunlight, giving us a sense of the sparkling world these characters inhabit.

I don’t usually buy into the hype about Hollywood movies but it seems totally justified here. If you’re over 18, I strongly recommend it. You’ll never look at money the same way again.