Saturday, 18 January 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street
Last night, in the thirty minute block of adverts you're now forced to sit through if you turn up on time for the cinema, The Wolf of Wall Street was preceded by an extended shill for Turkish Airlines starring Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi. Naturally, it's a repulsive little piece. The two impossibly rich stars try to outdo each other by travelling all around the world taking selfies in front of historical and geographical landmarks. There's no sense they're enjoying this globetrotting, it's just two dull, wealthy men using their infinite resources to potentially make a vague acquaintance feel momentarily defeated. Ugh. Fuck watching a film about yuppies.
Pleasingly, The Wolf of Wall Street is different. Although categorically about reprehensible people leeching money from anyone unwary enough to entertain their cold calling, Jordan Belfort isn't bored or dispirited by his successes. He wants more. Excess is hard-wired into him, he needs to win and keep winning. Any advantage he thinks he has, he pushes. Any goodwill, any note of interest is identified, then ruthlessly, needlessly exploited. He loves his work, and is extremely talented at it. His methods may be vile, but there's no denying his aptitude. The psychological model for this kind of protagonist is then closer to something like an Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle thumper. It's not about learning the error of your ways, it's the pathological need to consume and excrete everything in reach. Wolf's driving force is a prehistoric idea of success. A throng of bleating, screeching apes pounding their chests and gloating on the ruin they have wrought.