My day job is in the financial industry, so The Wolf of Wall Street looked like a good choice to see.
It was, but it sure did make me uncomfortable, striking me as Caligula meets Lord of the Flies.
Goodnight-up-above, what is it about us humans that we love wretched excess, particularly when we claim to hate it?
And I claim to hate it.
Sometimes . . .
In the entire movie, I only found two sympathetic characters. The first was Jordan Belfort’s long-suffering first wife Teresa Petrillo (not the real Jordan Belfort’s first wife’s name), and the yacht that sank on its way to Monaco. Come on! What did that poor 175-foot yacht do to anyone?
Yet I watched. I grimaced a lot. I laughed in spite of myself, some of it at the male guffaws coming from various points in the theatre and the places in the movie that tickled them.
Don’t get me wrong, these are roles that actors would kill to play. In 2007, Leonardo DiCaprio beat out Brad Pitt for the rights to the book, and had the devil’s own time getting it made.
Heaven knows I would LOVE to have played any role in the movie . . . except Jordan Belfort’s long suffering first wife.
And the yacht.
Jonah Hill, despite having been Oscar nominated for his performance in Moneyball (2011), took minimum wage ($60,000) to do this film and work with Martin Scorsese. By contrast, Leonardo DiCaprio got $10,000,000.00.
What can I say about the tale?
Jordan Belfort wanted his story to be a cautionary tale. I haven’t read his book but sure didn’t see it in the movie. I saw a cursory rags-to-riches-to-rags story surrounded by Roman orgies, excessive drug addiction with people snorting cocaine out of various body orifices and unfettered greed.
A cautionary tale would have shown the difficulty of shedding such a deep drug addiction. We see nothing of rehab or recovery. In fact, the movie version of Jordan Belfort said clearly that sobriety “sucks.”
Cautionary tales usually show some kind of change in the character, repentance or regret, even in the last seconds of life. Here, we never see the victims, those poor souls who Belfort and his cronies bilked, sometimes out of their life savings, because he could “spend the money better.” And I felt that the only thing Jordan Belfort was ever sorry for was getting caught.
And I cringed and laughed at it all. Black comedy is still comedy. I would give the movie eight out of ten, because it is excellent, and fascinating, well-acted and marvelously directed and, like Caligula and the boys in Lord of the Flies, shows a select few of the darker elements of human nature that many of us don’t ever experience, some of us might not ever see.
I would have given it 9 out of 10, but 569 F-bombs – yes, that is correct -- is a bit excessive, even for me.
I will say this. I walked out of that theatre remembering the worst things I’ve ever done in my life, and took satisfaction that I’ve never done anything quite like that.
But I sure as hell would love to on the big screen or, hell, the small screen . . . or stage . . . or . . . ?
What do you think? How did the movie strike you? Check out her response here!