Last night I watched The Wolf of Wall Street for the second time. I probably enjoyed it even more this time as the movie has so many great performances and scenes. Even many of the actors that are in the margins of the movie shine. The movie is long and dense, so I still don’t feel qualified to give it a proper review. However, there were a couple interesting ideas that I picked up on.
I think it is good that the movie didn’t try too hard to judge the characters. Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, a great film in its own right, was a condemnation of the kind of behavior that took place on Wall Street in the 80’s and it still ended up serving as inspiration for modern day traders. The Wolf of Wall Street documents the decadent and depraved nature of its characters, but for the most part it stops at documentation, and doesn’t try to relay any heavy moral message, as that hasn’t really proved effective in the past even when it is extremely well done.
I can’t help but view The Wolf of Wall Street as a comedy about the absurdity of capitalism. These people are entirely despicable, in every way possible, yet these are the people that run our world. In the beginning of the movie the working class is portrayed as “suckers” by these people for not having what it takes to get ahead. Even the other rich, anyone that dares trust these people with their money, are laughed at and mocked. This movie paints our whole capitalist system as some kind of perverse joke. One of the most telling scenes in the movie is when Jordan Belfort, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, changes the name of his company to Stratton Oakmont to give it a respectable old money waspish sounding name. Respectability is nothing but an illusion used to steal money from the “suckers” of the world.
But again this movie treats these people as animals in the zoo. They are not so much treated as bad guys, but as a strange species that we allow to roam, to the detriment of all. They make a mockery of our society, because we let them.