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'The Wolf of Wall Street' never gets inside the head of its protagonist

'Wolf' stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / December 25, 2013

'The Wolf of Wall Street' stars Jonah Hill (l.) and Leonardo DiCaprio (r.).

Mary Cybulski/Paramount Pictures/AP


Watching Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I felt like I was trapped inside a dryer spin cycle of the director’s collected hits, especially “Goodfellas” and “Casino.” Do we really need another movie about a Wall Street shark living high and scraping bottom? 

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The film is almost three hours long and precious little of it feels new – not from Scorsese or from anybody else. DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort, upon whose memoir this film, written by Terence Winter, is loosely based, goes from two-bit broker on Long Island to major player, earning $49 million by the time he was twenty-six, mostly from bogus blue chip stock sales. Scads of that money went up his nose or into a daisy chain of orgiastic extravaganzas – many of which we are subjected to ad nauseam.

DiCaprio doesn’t seem terribly comfortable in the role despite all his strutting and posturing. Maybe it’s because the film never allows him to get inside Belfort’s psyche. It’s essentially a celebration of sharkdom. (The victims of Belfort’s chicanery are barely dealt with.) Jonah Hill plays Belfort’s cohort and punching bag Donnie Azoff and the actor sports his whitest teeth ever. Too bad there isn’t enough here for him to sink his teeth into. Grade: C (Rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.)


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