Mark Kermode’s review of The Wolf of Wall Street is finally out in the ether. I just thought I’d weigh in on his weigh ins.
I gather that he did not think the film was as good as I said it is, central to his concerns are there the character of Jordan Belfort is very unsympathetic and as a result we as an audience have no one to root for. He uses the example of Goodfellas to highlight this, because despite Henry Hill doing all these horrid things, we still end up rooting for him.
Part of the reason why this is the case in Goodfellas is that Scorsese pulls the wool over our eyes. Much like Wolf the screenplay is adapted from the memoirs of somebody else, but in that the author of Goodfellas in all probability legitimately killed people, the film never shows us this because of Hill’s narration (imagine like a Nick Carraway sort of figure from The Great Gatsby, we everything through rose tinted goggles). However Wolf is not interested in shying away from its main characters wrong doings, and that’s kind of the whole point.
As a result, according to the good doctor, we cannot find a way “in” to the character and therefore do not care about him. He poses the question “Why am I spending all this time in the company of a character who I don’t care what happens to?” I think it’s less about rooting for him but more about “I want to see this character get his punishment”, indeed he does go to prison, but afterwards he looks pretty fine and you think “four years, is that it?” And that’s exactly the point I was making when I said in my review “..if we (or America) as a society do not reprimand people like Belfort then why should the film?”. I think the lack of sympathy is part of the film, rather than a shortcoming.
Yes, the film is way too long and you could easily lose half and hour worth o’ stuff and the film wouldn’t even feel the hit. There are long sections where I thought “Blimey, this is long” which is a sign of indiscipline.
I made a point about the powerless women, but Kermode goes one step further and thinks that the film is partly chauvinistic in that it doesn’t take a position on the issue.
Kermode’s take on this can be surmised in the phrase “I get the point, move on”, which I feel inclined to agree with. It is pretty indulgent, but still a romping ride
I also forgot to mention the amazing Matthew McConaughey short lived cameo, which I loved. mm-hm-mm
As usual, I can see where Kermode is coming from and agree with pretty much all of his points, perhaps it shows a little naivety on my part in that I could see past them and enjoy the experience.