The Wolf of Wall Street And Why You Probably Left Feeling A Little Cold After The First Two Episodes Of Full Swing

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One of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of the last 10 years has been Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Wall Street trader and scheister Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. It recounts the rise and fall of Belfort’s career (and life) from selling penny stocks to hapless victims all the way to the obscene wealth that he was at one time lavished in with plenty of drug fuelled, head shaving hijinx along the way. 

Academy award winner Leonardo Dicaprio plays Belfort at full throttle and is supported by a litany of wonderful performances from the cast of Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and McConaughey to name a few. It was revered the world over and became yet another critical and box-office hit for master auteur Martin Scorsese.

Brilliant. So all of the above makes what I am about to say now all the more surprising.

I don’t like The Wolf Of Wall Street.

I. Just. Don’t. Like. It.

I know this is somewhat of a hot take and a lot of people will disagree with this but it just does nothing for me. I want to like it, believe me, I do. Scorsese and Dicaprio are two people whose films I pretty much always enjoy. I listen to The Rewatchables episode about it and it makes me want to put it on straight away but every time I do I am somewhat inevitably left non-plussed by it all. It’s just not for me.

I thought I was pretty much alone in this sentiment but then I found this review from the great Mark Kermode. Having really wondered why the film hadn’t struck a chord with me, it was only once I had watched this review that I figured out what it was. It wasn’t that the performances were stale or the directing was off or the editing was choppy. It wasn’t any of that. It was fundamentally because…

I fundamentally didn’t care about Jordan Belfort. I just didn’t care about him at all. At no point was I curious about what happened to him nor did I want to emulate his “success”. He bored me.

I didn’t feel empathy, envy, pity, excitement, sorrow, fear; or whatever it may be. I just felt nothing.

And the same goes for the first 2 episodes of Full Swing.

Film buffs will often talk about the audience “finding a way into the character” that is portrayed on screen. We don’t always have to like them but we must have some connection with them in some way. 

Flying around on private jets and playing in money games doesn’t do it. Having a mansion with a trophy wife complaining about your play doesn’t do it either. 

We want something to grab onto. We want some form of connection. 

We might respond to the blood, sweat and tears of practice. We might want to understand the pressure and sacrifice that goes into top-level play. We might latch onto wound opening moments of weakness.

We are golf coaches. People come to see us for help with their golf. They come to see us. Us. Yes, we need to provide value for money. Yes, the “information” should hopefully be accurate. But they come to see us and all that that entails.

Be authentic. Open up. Show moments of weakness. Let the player into your character as well. Get them interested in you.

They can get information from a book. They can improve on their own. But you, and sometimes only you, as a coach can create a portal into some of their deepest-rooted beliefs and feelings. You can make players feel. Can make players be connected to something. Can ignite something inside of them and help them really enjoy this game. That is something that can get people hooked.