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“The Wolf” Bites

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Image Courtesy of "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Image Courtesy of “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Most moviegoers consider Leonardo DiCaprio a good actor – we fell in love with Jack Dawson treading water in “Titanic” and were mesmerized by green-light-gazing Jay Gatsby last summer– but the true test of an adored actor’s abilities proves to be if he can convince his most star-struck fans to despise his role as a greedy businessman, playboy and drug-addict. In terms of the acting talents of the stars “The Wolf of Wall Street” delivered, but the impressive elements of the film end here. Audiences were widely misled by trailers for the Christmas Day release, which suggested a classier blockbuster starring fan-favorite DiCaprio. Even though his role was that of a law-breaking bad boy, the trailer still portrayed DiCaprio as a lovable character with whom the audience would empathize and admire for his charm, wit, energy and mastermind thinking. Though many may have expected this film to be a modern-day Gatsby with plenty of partying in the fictional West Egg, “The Wolf of Wall Street” actually proved to be its own, less inspiring genre.

Cheap, overdone, static, crude, unnecessary, uninspiring, demeaning, random and poorly edited are all words to describe Martin Scorsese’s film. If the sections that can be described by the above words were cut out (making the movie maybe 90 minutes long, or in other words half the time of the actual film) the resulting production would advance in quality. Fleeting moments of potential exhibit a glimpse of what could have been edgy, clever, sexy and realistic but instead wholly resembled a movie aimed at an immature “Project X” crowd.

So, are we just too snobby and old-fashioned in our tastes? No, it was more than perhaps being a prude to the unnecessary sex scenes, endless cocaine and the ultimate lack of justice in the end. Even beyond what the MPAA raters warned audiences of, there was simply a bad mood and vibe to the movie. Yes, it was based on the real life antics of Jordan Belfort, but without background about the true scandal the audience watches a comedy that was grossly mixed with dark subject matter that made the movie’s purpose quite confusing and nauseating.

“The Wolf on Wall Street” apparently has done well in foreign box offices, grossing over $15.2 million in France since opening. Still, I wonder what lovely gains in reputation Americans will get from the film? In internationally produced movies Americans often are presented in a stereotypical and unflattering light, but why does it seem that with this film we are doing it to ourselves?

Please, do not let “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Jordan Belfort be the first thing a foreigner thinks of when someone mentions the American economy! Please, let us not have another thing that gives the wrong impression to people who do not understand the context and background of a story. Please, let us rise above being trashy and loving it!

Overall, Martin Scorsese managed to make an attention-grabbing movie. Certainly, the 180-minutes was not boring, but I found the elaborately distasteful elements exhausting to watch. The film itself was well performed but not well edited, and by the end it was nice to leave the theater and see women fully clothed.

I’m not sure what the intentions for the film were exactly. It was not a comedy; there were too many terribly realistic and gut-wrenching moments. It was not a drama; much of it obviously was not meant for personal reflection or abstract observation. Rather, “The Wolf of Wall Street” ultimately makes a viewer lose faith in humanity and believe that maybe Leonardo DiCaprio was the one shot by George Wilson. Regardless of how he proved himself as an outstanding actor, it is still shocking to see a favorite hero and protagonist become such an adversary.

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