Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
180 minutes
Rated – R
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie


Grade: A

Marking the fifth time Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio has teamed up for a film in a little over a decade, The Wolf of Wall Street is quite an achievement. The film is undeniably one of the most enjoyable and entertaining films of the year. The icing on the cake is DiCaprio’s outlandish performance, in a form you’ve never seen him before. Take a little from him in Django Unchained, a little from The Great Gatsby, a little from Revolutionary Road, and some from Catch Me If You Can. Mix them all together and then pile on a mountain of drugs and that’s what DiCaprio is able to give you for three whole hours. His portrayal of Jordan Belfort is full of energy and unflinching confidence.

Written by Terence Winter and based on Belfort’s memoir, the story begins as one of the little guys climbing the ladder to success, but takes a dark turn to how obsession and addiction can ruin the very empire that you’ve created. Sure, there is much controversy embedded in the film. The immorality of Belfort’s rise to fame. His complete disregard for women and authorities. Oh, and I’m still scratching my head over how this film wasn’t rated NC-17 with all the nudity and sex and apparently using the f-word over 500 times. But hey, it’s Scorsese and I sure do hope there’s an uncut version available.

In addition to DiCaprio’s loud and mesmerizing performance, the supporting cast thrives alongside him. Starting with Matthew McConaughey as Belfort’s mentor in the beginning, his influence on the impressionable Belfort could be considered as a plague, though Belfort would suggest he armed him with every word of advice that he truly needed to succeed. Then there’s Jonah Hill who plays Belfort’s sidekick. Hill is able to accommodate DiCaprio’s outrageous character with his own form of insanity. If there’s a scene you’ll remember from The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s the Quaalude overdose scene and that couldn’t have been done without DiCaprio and Hill’s over-the-top performances.

Sure, there’s satire surrounding every corner of every scene in The Wolf of Wall Street, but that’s the point. There are rich people and there are poor people, there are good people and there are bad people. Everyone has a story to tell and in this specific case, this is a story of Belfort’s rise to fortune at the expense of many victims. Sound familiar? As ridiculous as the movie is at times, it certainly hits close to home. The pot has been stirred, now where do you stand?

Before I forget, make a note that this film is hilarious! That’s what makes it so entertaining. It’s full of black comedy, but there are many slapstick jokes and gags for anyone to enjoy. Give all the credit to the Scorsese-DiCaprio tandem. They’ve created something great in The Wolf of Wall Street: a film that’s brilliant but offensive, and also one that’s so clearly obsessed with its own madness that it’s blind to all boundaries. Call it challenging, call it misogynistic, call it whatever. This film isn’t for everyone, but I sure hope it’s for you because if it’s not, then you’re missing out.


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