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Dana Steven’s “Wolf” Treads Too Much of the Same Territory

In response to Dana Stevens’s 861‑word review of The Wolf of Wall Street on Slate

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Dana Stevens takes a familiar tack in her approach to Scorsese’s biopic about the Caligula conman, Jordan Belfort in her review, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” That is, her open suggests as much, decrying the level of carnal excess in the drug fueled escapades of the film’s anti-hero.

You might be saying to yourself, “This is Dana Stevens, resident critic for the respected mag Slate.  No way she’s gone down the road of lesser arbiters and condemned the film because of it’s content.”

Thankfully, your instincts serve you well. Stevens rights the ship almost immediately, providing much needed clarification—“Mind you, this is not to suggest that Belfort’s amorality is in itself a fault of The Wolf of Wall Street.” Whew.  

Instead, Stevens argues that the “story’s relentless, unvarying rhythm” overestimates “the audience’s ability or desire to watch Leo misbehave.” It’s a fine line but an important distinction.  

However, though she narrowly escapes the aforementioned pitfall, she harps on its across-the-hall neighbor for far too long and the piece becomes a one note song. DiCaprio’s performance isn’t mentioned. Neither is Jonah Hill’s. You’ll be subjected to paragraph after paragraph of repetitive (though well written, as always) critique that will wear you down and make you wish you’d read Ann Hornaday instead.    

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