'The Wolf of Wall Street,' a Scorsese epic of American greed

Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:26pm EST
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese plumbs the depths of the debauched, hedonistic lifestyle of a 1990s convicted stock swindler and the world of high finance in "The Wolf of Wall Street," a cautionary tale about excess, lust and greed.

The film, which opens in U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, is based on the memoir of disgraced stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who made a fortune by defrauding clients and spent it on expensive cars, homes, a yacht, hookers, orgies and all the alcohol and drugs he could consume.

Scorsese, the 71-year-old Academy Award winning director of 2006's "The Departed," strays from the cinematic turf of mobsters to focus on a different type of crook in the film that magazine Screen International described as "'Goodfellas' without the guns."

"I'm interested in people - some people who are basically good but do bad things," Scorsese said.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" reunites Scorsese with triple Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked with him on "The Departed," "The Aviator" and "Shutter Island."

DiCaprio, 39, read Belfort's no-holds barred, unapologetic book about six years ago and knew he had to portray the cocaine-snorting, fast-talking financial bad boy on the big screen, and had Scorsese in mind to direct.

"I felt his biography was a reflection of everything that is wrong in today's society. This hedonistic lifestyle, this time period in Wall Street's history where Jordan basically gave in to every carnal indulgence possible and was obsessed with greed and obsessed with himself essentially," he said.

The three-hour, R-rated film earned a Golden Globe nomination for best movie in a musical or comedy and a best actor nod for DiCaprio, generating speculation of more to come when the Oscar nominations are announced on January 16.   Continued...

Cast members Leonardo DiCaprio (R) and Jonah Hill arrive for the premiere of the film "The Wolf of Wall Street" in New York in this file photo from December 17, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson