There’s nothing funny about an ethical meltdown in the financial sector. Bankers are the new rustlers, except they don’t ride horses; they ride you.
Martin Scorsese, aided superbly once again by Leonardo DiCaprio, has made an outrageous, scintillating satire on Wall Street’s excesses, which, like its subject matter, becomes intoxicated by the ease and splendour of what it can get away with before imploding drastically two thirds of the way through.
Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) is a hick from the sticks who decides that he wants to be a billionaire before he’s lost the ability to burn candles at all ends, with high-class hookers in attendance and pure-as-driven snow up his nose.
He makes contact with a Wall Street shaker (Matthew McConaughey) who gives him a hilarious introduction to the workings of investment brokerage. The once proud objectives of financial patronage, such as looking after the client, has changed to looking after No 1.
Belfort takes to it like a duck to muck. Between a threesome in the master bedroom and a snort of angel dust in the study, he uses his skills as a salesman to start his own business and from there it’s hello Forbes 100 and bring on fame, fortune and fraud.
The rise and rise, involving drugs on tap, weird sex that would give Aunt Aggie a coronary and a vocab that seldom advances beyond four letters, is an anarchist’s wet dream.
What could be more damning to the belief in market forces when the market is a bear pit and the forces are self serving?
The pity is threefold – length, repetition and nastiness. Eventually the satirical high becomes greed porn and the humour gags on its own excrement.