Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the few Hollywood stars who has never appeared in a sequel or franchise. His track record of stand alone movies since the heartthrob days of Titanic has been uniformly impressive, with only the odd misfire (J Edgar, The Beach) among his high quality output.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a great addition to his CV, and his performance is a knockout. His role as whizzkid "stockbroker" Jordan Bellfort requires him to pull out all the stops – and he does so with infectious exuberance. He is dexterous, energetic and wonderfully expressive as he succumbs to all out hedonism in his journey to riches. As the young noviciate into illegal business practices he is very convincing, chiefly learning the ropes from stoned, hard drinking mentor Mark Hanna (a delightfully outre McConaughey), and then fiercely commanding as he soon sets up his own business, Stratton Oakmont, after the 1987 Black Monday financial crash.
Director Scorsese paints Bellfort's world of quick riches filching innocent people's money when investing in stocks, in broad, freewheeling fashion. Stratton Oakmont goes from strength to strength, and very soon we see Bellfort and his colleagues indulging in every vice imaginable as their vast monies accrue. All drugs consumed, alcohol imbibed, sex rampant and dwarves tossed. It's a riot.
DiCaprio holds it all together with remarkable brio. He grimaces and grunts with unbridled glee when giving his staff encouraging pep talks and is vividly entertaining when under the influence of drugs and booze, falling into his swimming pool and snorting coke from a prostitute's backside. In one long, supremely funny sequence he is so pumped full of pills that he collapses and has to painfully crawl to his car, such is his lack of equlibrium. It's a terrifically amusing demonstration of this young addict's lack of control, as he falls down the stairs from the hotel he's been in and laboriously tries to make it to his waiting vehicle. DiCaprio's hilarious turn is undoubtedly one of his best ever, and he receives excellent support from his co-stars. Hill is marvellously screwed up as his loyal number 2 Donnie Azoff, loathsome and manipulative in equal measure, while Robbie as Bellfort's beautiful blonde wife Naomi demonstrates believable tough-minded intelligence when their marriage goes awry. There is little subtlety to any of the performances, and quite rightly so.
Scorsese doesn't comment on the characters, he just shows them in their full-blown light and the cast rise to the challenge with skilful confidence. It's a long tale but an immensely enjoyable one. You really do get thrown into this irresponsible world and your nose is stuck right in there experiencing the lewd displays of decadence and bravado – but Scorsese brings real verve to it and keeps you consistently engaged throughout the almost three-hour running time. Huge fun – just don't watch it with your grandmother.
EXTRAS ★★ The featurette The Wolf Pack (17:00), which has interviews with stars including DiCaprio, Hill, Robbie and Reiner, as well as director Scorsese and screenwriter Winter; the featurette Running Wild (11:19), whihc has more interviews; and Round Table (10:56), which is which is a round table interview with DiCaprio, Scorsese, Winter and Hill. What's really needed here is an audio commentary with Scorsese and DiCaprio...