Don’t you just hate it when the movie gets it wrong? Yup – you guessed it. I’m one of those annoying book-is-better types. Take cinema’s latest Big Thing – The Wolf of Wall Street.
Let me start by saying this: The plot is pretty much on-target. And considering that the movie already clocks in at a hefty 3 hours, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only reader who was secretly relieved that Jordan’s stint in rehab was left out.
My issue is with the casting.
See, the real Jordan Belfort – the one in the book – is no Leo di Caprio. He’s a short and somewhat awkward-looking Jewish kid of twenty-friggin-six. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but Leo is none of these things. Sure – he coloured his hair to look more like the real guy. Big whoop. He’s still forty.
Upon reading about the casting a couple of months back, my excitement to see Leonardo in this role far outweighed my slight annoyance that he in no way resembled the character he was playing. And after watching the film earlier this week, I was thoroughly impressed by Leo’s performance.
So why this column, you ask?
Because I want your opinion on something my cousin said:
Isn’t it funny, she said, chewing on a last bite of popcorn after the movie, that the casting director did not feel comfortable casting a younger Jordan, but had no issues casting such a young Nadine?
(Side note: For some reason, all the characters in the movie have slightly altered names. Jordan stayed Jordan, but Donny became Danny and Nadine became Naomi. That sort of thing.)
Now, you already know what the Book Jordan was like. Let me tell you what the Book Naomi was like: Young, over-the-top hot and blonde. That’s right – exactly like Margot Robbie, the actress who played her.
My cousin – not usually too much of a feminist type - is of the opinion that the casting choices were made because of societal gender prejudices: If Jordan Belfort – a modern-day Roman emperor, in the words of Leo di Caprio – was played by someone whose face you know from tweeny/twenty-something crap like 90210 or Gossip Girl, he would not have been credible. Never mind the fact that the guy really was a gazillionaire and head of a massive company before turning 27 – the average movie-goer would just not buy it.
On the other hand, no movie watcher is going to complain if the sexy wife is cast as an even sexier actress.
So – was it sexism? Or was Leo (who is indeed almost forty, but still looking mighty fine) just the only person who could handle a role like this?
PS: If you haven’t seen the film, it’s worth the watch. Just don’t take your kids or grandma – this movie has more sex in it than the average porno.
PPS: I think Leonardo's company owns the right to the book. So it's no wonder he's in it. Still - my cousin has a point...