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The Rags To Riches Story of A Wall Street Stockbroker
on 11 October 2014
This is the rags to riches story of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. He comes from a working class, blue collar background, and wants to climb to the top of Wall Street, by hook or by crook. He gets a job with a backstreet firm of stockbrokers, selling penny share stocks to working class families, and through sheer force of personality, charm and chutzpah, starts earning mega bucks ($70,000 US dollars in one month alone)
He realises few get rich working for others, and so he sets up his own stockbroking business on Wall Street, hiring buddies who come from similar modest backgrounds. Their mantra is rules are made to be broken, and clients are suckers, who can't be parted from their money fast enough. The business goes from strength to strength, and Jordan and his mates soon have more money than they can find ways to spend.
$2000 suits, $1500 hookers, qualudes and cocaine, yachts, beachside mansions, Lamborghinis and Ferraris, Rolex watches, the self- indulgence of these multi-millionaires has no limits.
Inevitably, as the business prospers, both through insider trading and manipulating stock markets, the U.S. authorities, primarily the FBI, start to take an active interest.
Leonard DiCaprio is consistently excellent. He gives a very melodramatic performance, with lots of tub thumping speech making, a performance very much from the Al Pacino school of acting. Jonah Hill, as Jordan's sleazy, right-hand man, is even better, arguably the most likeable unlikeable character, since Sean Penn's slime-ball attorney and counsellor-at-law in Carlito's Way ( Carlito's Way [Blu-ray] [Region Free] ). These two very much steal the show, although the lady who plays Jordan's wife is very effective too.
Inevitably, comparisons will be drawn between this movie and Oliver Stone's Wall Street, and also Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities ( Wall Street [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] Bonfire of the Vanities [Blu-ray]  [US Import] ). Bonfire was a so so interpretation of a great book, and is less effective than Wolf. It's closer to call when matching this film up against Wall Street. They are more or less equally good, choosing one over the other would basically boil down to whether you prefer the combination of DiCaprio and Hill or Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas. This movie has a harder edge than Wall Street, whilst Wall Street had more likeable characters, particularly Martin Sheen's character. Overall, if I had to watch one of the two films again, I'd definitely go for Wall Street.
The main difficulty with this film, is the complete absence of any sympathetic characters. Although Jonah Hill's role is quite amusing, you don't find yourself rooting even for him. I love the USA, my partner and I own a holiday home in Florida, and we have several American friends. However, this film is a near 3 hour advertisement for all that's bad in American society, and anybody watching it, would shudder at the thought of having anything to do with our cousins over the other side of the big pond.
The people in this film are uniformly avaricious, duplicitous, bellicose, immoral, depraved and obnoxious. Their souls are as bad as their suits are good. The movie overall, is basically a thinly disguised celebration of lechery, debauchery, and all the worst excesses of wealth. If the performances of DiCaprio and Hill weren't superb, and the two of them do basically carry the movie, the film would only be on a par with, say, Kevin Spacey's Swimming With Sharks, i.e. a movie who's bark is much worse than its bite ( Swimming With Sharks [DVD] .
I wouldn't dissuade you from renting this film, but I'd advise against paying the full price for the blu ray. I think buying Wall Street on blu ray is a better choice, if only because I think that film will stand the test of time much better. Or else, read The Bonfire Of The Vanities, if you haven't done that already - The Bonfire of the Vanities.
Thank you for taking the time to read this review.