Pages Navigation Menu

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (review)

wolf_of_wall_street_ver3THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Written by Terence Winter
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie
 

Jordan Belfort: The year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.

When I’m not reviewing movies, which as of late is far less often than I would like it to be, I work for a bank. I’m not in investments but my position is more or less investment adjacent. When people see THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, Martin Scorsese’s take on the stock market milieu in the late 1980’s, based loosely on the life of former stock broker turned motivational speaker, Jordan Belfort, they will probably recoil in genuine horror at the prospect of just how appalling the life of a broker is. They may even say that Scorsese must surely be exaggerating. Sure, the times have changed since Belfort’s meteoric rise to the top of the stock pile, but, as someone who works in about as close a proximity to the world of investing as he can endure, I assure you that Scorsese isn’t embellishing in the least.

wolf-of-wall-street-02

Belfort is played by Scorsese favourite, Leonardo DiCaprio, who is unhinged here in a way that I’ve not seen from him in some time. He even looks at times as if he is having fun and, dare I say, enjoying himself. His zest for Belfort fuels THE WOLF OF WALL STREET for its near 3-hour runtime. (And when I say near, I mean it, as the film clocks in at 2 hours and 59 minutes, one whole minute longer than CASINO, making it Scorsese’s longest film to date.) We see DiCaprio’s Belfast go from being an ambitious yet earnest broker, new to the scene and looking for an opportunity to make his mark any way that he can, to the wolf himself, a title he earned after a Forbes magazine profile. Belfort starts out well intentioned, hoping to make a successful life for himself and his wife (Cristin Milloti, the mother from “How I Met Your Mother”) in the Big Apple. He is chasing the American Dream, or the almighty dollar, however you prefer to slice it, and he doesn’t really care how he does it. His pursuits at this point are simple, to provide for his family, to do himself proud. Once he gets a taste for the market though, and sees how he can exploit the poor to become unimaginably rich in very little time, there is no looking back on the boy he used to be.

trailer-de-el-lobo-de-wall-street-con-leonardo-dicaprio2

Naturally, or disturbingly unnaturally I suppose, a life of excess stretches far past Belfort’s bank account. He and the schlepps that he pulled up the ranks with him as he rocketed through the stratosphere, including Jonah Hill, who impressively holds his own alongside DiCaprio’s powerhouse performance, partake in copious amounts of blow, alcohol and qualudes while they make money hand over fist and fornicate with anything that moves, anywhere they like. If DiCaprio carries our attention during this exhilarating journey, Scorsese provides us with the frame of mind to follow this insanity. After proving that he could change gears entirely with the family friendly, HUGO, Scorsese once again demonstrates how diverse he can truly be, a feat that is even more laudable given how late we are in his career. Visually, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET is controlled chaos incarnate and Scorsese’s hands are steady and firm as he juggles all of these balls in the air at once. One scene alone has dozens of brokers partying it up hard with a naked marching band, wrestling hookers and money and confetti flying through the air. It is a miracle he manages to pull it all off. The fact that he makes every moment so mesmerizing is a testament to his enduring genius and timelessness as a director.

wolf-of-wall-street-official-extended-trailer-0-618x400

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET reunites Scorsese with frequent “Boardwalk Empire” writer and executive producer, Terence Winter. Winter’s screenplay, based on Belfort’s autobiography, is his first for the big screen since GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN’, and is something of a masterpiece in comparison to his first effort. In fact, it is damn near close to perfect. While the visual aesthetic of the film is on constant hyperdrive, the screenplay takes a much more subtle, sneaky approach. It is working the whole time in the background so while you’re feasting on all the incredible action taking place on screen, you’re being brought closer and closer into a world that is as layered and complex as it is exhilarating and boorish on the surface. Together, Scorsese and Winter have created a brilliant symphony. To watch it is to become a part of it. The film whirls around you as you experience a gamut of sensations, from shock to insight to at times crippling laughter. Suffice it to say, there is never a dull moment on Wall Street and having the wolf himself as your guide provides for an immense amount of entertainment. The best part though is while you’re having all of this fun, Scorsese is just sitting back watching and waiting for you to realize that this is exactly what is ruining America.

5

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give The Wolf of Wall Street?

3 Comments

  1. Great review; we’re on the same page with this one! I was so impressed how this 3-hour runtime didn’t drag for a single second! It seems like any work Leo does (especially with Scoresese) is a slam dunk.

  2. OLIVER STONE called! —he wants his droppings BACK!

    REALLY

    Scorsese —REMAINS— NOWHERE.

    REALLY REALLY

  3. Is this movie doing anything new? At this point, “white Wall Street conmen experience meteoric rise and disgraceful plummet, as accompanied by prostitutes and drugs; cause us to question our own social values” isn’t new ground to tread. In a year where we had some pretty cool and unusual things happening in mainstream cinema (an animated “princess” movie where the most important relationship was between two sisters, a space thriller whose face was a middle-aged woman, a high-grossing action movie starring a young woman, a sci-fi blockbuster where 2/3 leads were NOT white men, a female buddy-cop movie), this just seems….tired. And honestly, nothing in this movie asks any questions that haven’t been asked a million times, in similar explorations. Lets celebrate Progress not Excess.

Share Your Thoughts