Last night I watched the new Martin Scorsese film, The Wolf of Wall Street. Great though it was, I felt utterly repulsed the longer it went on.
Let me start with the good points. In terms of the films narrative structure, I thought it resembled the great Scarface. A typical rag to riches story involving a protagonist Jordon Belfort (Leo DiCaprio) whose moral compass wanes from virtually the first scene. Said scene featured a stunning cameo from Mathew McConaughey, playing an established stockbroker corrupting his junior (DiCaprio). For me, the highlight of the film.
Once at the peak of his powers, Belfort succumbs to greed and eventually, his hens come home to roost. Beautiful storytelling from Scorsese, who in a flash of unorthodox filmmaking used DiCaprio to break from character and narrate towards the camera. This helped things tick over seamlessly.
Now to my repulsions, none of which should be inferred as a criticism of Scorsese.
The film featured a lot of drugs and drug-fuelled sex scenes. So much so, you may be forgiven for calling it soft porn. There were dwarves being launched towards office targets, women having their heads shaved for money and a catalogue of grotesque jokes, such as, "I'd sleep with her even if she gave me Aids," all in the name of group camaraderie.
Yet it was the blatant frittering away of money that really irked me. The absolute disregard for its value and the deeply disturbing belief that the financial sector is ostensibly, a game. Investor's money, once in the Ferris Wheel of stock broking, no longer existed. What did exist however, were the sizeable commissions these satanic brokers were taking home.
Perhaps I should've seen another film, if I can't stomach what certain grown-ups do for a living. Maybe I'm an idealist, but I can assure you my rose-tinted spectacles came off for two hours. Never has a film captured the disgusting, murky world of banking so vividly.
I indulged in post-film discussion with my friend. Together we speculated as to whether people are still like that? I would hedge a bet to say they were. I've read much in recent weeks about Paul Flowers, a former chairman of the Coop Bank. Cocaine, crystal meth and rent boys are all key words that would appear if you searched his name into Google. Then last week I read that 115 Goldman Sachs bankers received a £3 million bonus. It's not my place to question whether their performances warrant such remuneration, but it seems a staggering amount of money.
This film was a resounding success, any which way you look at it. An intriguing story involving a loveable rogue, brilliant acting from the entire cast and jaw droppingly beautiful people, engaging with each other in an elitist circle, never quite captured until now. And therein lies the real victory for this film- being so immersive; the viewer can finally wrestle with the world of banking. An immoral, unethical band of brothers pushing their luck. Scorsese at his thought provoking best. I wouldn't be surprised to learn this film sweeps up at awards season.