(out of 5)
Martin Scorsese situates GoodFellas in the stock exchange for this biopic of Jordan Belfort (played here by Leonardo DiCaprio), the Wall Street tycoon who starts out a faceless trader on the floors of the financial capital before owning his own multi-billion dollar company founded on shady deals and crooked methods. By the time he reaches the top of his game, Belfort has become a habitual drug user, womanizer and full-time voluptuary, but Scorsese never lets us forget that, illegal activity aside, he’s actually good at his job. The film is not a dishonest hagiography of an evil man, nor is it an indictment of his terrible behavior either: three hours of shouting, rampant orgies in offices and drug-induced bad behavior on the streets provides a rollicking display of DiCaprio at his very best, giving his most energetic and charismatic performance yet, but it also leaves an audience confused. Scorsese wants to give us a trip into the paradise of excess that Belfort lives in before slamming him down with the consequences, but there are neither moral stakes nor any kind of decidedly non-judgmental sympathy, only two hours of indulgence followed by an hour of guilt. The whole thing could have been told in half the time, for while the editing and dialogue couldn’t possibly be better, the first half of Belfort’s rise is far more exciting in its detail than the latter, where slack plotting allows very little to take far too long to happen. It’s Scorsese in shoddier form than usual, not quite the misfire of Bringing Out The Dead, but even Casino, which was another retread of GoodFellas, was much easier to sit through.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Cinematography by Rodrigo Prieto
Production Design by Bob Shaw
Costume Design by Sandy Powell
Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker