Guys, it’s something I just have to get out there—I am never going to get over Leo. Ever since that day, back when I was in the seventh grade, when I went to the theatre with my older cousin and watched him promise to never let go, I have believed it. And, I’ve held up the other end of that promise as if I were Rose, Rose Dawson, clinging to life amidst a freezing piece of debris. I will say that it was something in the magical youth of his looks back then, the way James Cameron gave him a golden hued babyface that will forever stay at the forefront of my memory. It was about the way he acted without looking like he acted—it may have been the first Oscar-worthy performance I ever watched. To me, even after seven ticket stubs (which probably only cost about the same as two do now), I was infatuated, intrigued and, obviously, in love.
I thought it might be that I was in love with Leo as Jack, but after watching him in The Basketball Diaries, pulling up old episodes of Growing Pains, seeing him in Gilbert Grape and so on and so on, I realized, no, I loved Leo. I respected Leo. And, most of all, I was going to see anyting and everything he ever released on screen (big or small).
And let’s just say that it goes without actually saying, he’s never put out something we didn’t love. Maybe you didn’t love a story here and there, but a unifying element remains true—Leo was good in everything. He’s famous for pushing boundaries, stretching his potential and scaring the shit out of us with some of his mood swings.
As probably the generation’s best sketch artist, he has always had the knack for crawling deep into the mind and the physical persona of every famous and non-famous person, criminal and president that he’s played. And it just keeps getting better.
With The Wolf of Wall Street, he takes on the big character of Jordan Belfort—a criminal of the worst kind. With a screenplay coming in at just under three hours, thank goodness Scorcese picked Leo to man the helm. He takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, obsessions and indulgences. From elation to depression, hallucination to harsh reality, there’s something in the way that Leo never does the same thing twice that turns this 3-hour saga into something fast-paced, memorable and downright colorful.
I’ll be the first to admit it was way too long not to make numerous bathroom trips, and that you don’t even have to worry about that because the same scene is usually still playing out when you get back. But, it works. If you do the research, you’ll find that every single scene and habit depicted in the film is one that actually went down with the real Mr. Belfort. Down to the copious amounts of (and ways to snort it) cocaine, the expired “lemmons,” and the hundreds of hookers, they didn’t leave out a thing that helps to paint the picture of who this creep is and why he ended up the way he is (and where he is).
And lucky for him, helpful to him, Leo turned his nasty character into something Hollywood-esque. Not necessarily someone you want to emulate, and definitely not someone you want to admire, but someone shiny, tempting and curious. Leo is able to move viewers (that didn’t walk out of the theatre) past the idea of the crude, and into a deeper look at what drives human nature, how giving into temptations can go up or way, way down. Leo makes it more than a movie about Jordan Belfort—as he made Titanic more than a movie about a sinking ship. Catch Me If You Can about more than a scam artist. And so on.
Bravo, Leo. Welcome back to the scene, the [awards show] stage and the top of many moviegoers’ lists.