Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

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The Wolf of Wall Street is DiCaprio as good as he’s ever been and Scorsese takes it up a notch to a level we rarely get from him.

Jordan Belfort is not a good guy, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t interesting. Addicted to drugs, sex and money was practically a prerequisite for a stock broker in the 80’s, but Belfort had to quickly learn the ropes before becoming a pro himself. Belfort is one part genius, one part scumbag, two parts Quaaludes and some sort of chemist in his ability to not kill himself under the mountains of drugs he uses. All of these fuels a roller coaster lifestyle that we see almost bring him to rock bottom; just never forget one thing, Belfort is rich.

DiCaprio is incredible Jordan. They actor has never shown such range as he dives head first into the depravity and the humor of the character. Many of the things Belfort does are ridiculous and you will be shocked more than once at the nonsense he gets into and the way DiCaprio dives into the part with such reckless abandon. The guy does things you’ve never seen in a studio movie before and Leo sells it every step of the way. Belfort is such a complex individual, even if he is a bastard, and DiCaprio will hook you in like Belfort did tons of unsuspecting individuals. DiCaprio will make you forget all the terrible things he has done and let you see that rare glimpse of humanity inside Belfort, at least that’s what they want you to think.

The message of the film is frustrating as hell when you look past all of the “fun” thrown up on the screen. Belfort tells us over and over again how much of a scumbag he is, but we watch him weasel his way out of most everything, never facing any real consequences for the shit he’s done. Scorsese isn’t afraid to point the finger right back at the theatergoer either, trying to remind you not to be the sucker that most of these Wall St. scumbags want nothing more than to screw over. The government is ready to let them off the hook, we can’t let them off too. Scorsese and his screenwriter, Terrance Winter, slowly paint a picture of just how unlike the general public these guys are, they aren’t just like the people on Main St. who work an honest living, we shouldn’t strive to be more like them. And when it’s all said and done our hero is still riding the subway wondering what all has changed while Belfort stays rich and barely learns a lesson besides don’t take multiple Lemmons at one time.

The world building is so rich, so intricate, so unbelievable that the only complaint I might be able to levy against the film is that it doesn’t give us enough of it. I just wanted more. I wanted to see more of Belfort selling, I wanted to get to know all of the salesmen more than we do, I wanted to see more of the depraved behaviors Jordan is willing to partake in, all I wanted was more from a film that is telling us that sort of greed can destroy you. Scorsese’s films are like a drug for cinephiles and forgive me if I just can’t stop wanting more of it even after this amazing three hour bender that is The Wolf of Wall Street.

Scorsese’s team is in top form, per usual, but editor Thelma Schoonmaker really gets to flex her muscles unlike any collaboration the two have worked on in some time. She crams so many details into this film that you are often overwhelmed, but always wanting more. She makes a three hour film that is not once, not even remotely, boring as she helps guide Scorsese’s insane vision of excess to the screen.

The supporting cast is also rounded out with a ton of talent, some who you will recognize, and everyone takes it up to an 11. Margot Robbie is in a boys’ world here, but she is as commanding and powerful as anyone else in the ensemble. She’s a firecracker of energy on the screen, using everything in her repertoire to hold your attention. Her chemistry with DiCaprio is also electric, both when they are lusting and fighting, and you will have no problem understanding the attraction. Jonah Hill is great as an insane partner and friend of Jordan’s, and he shows off his abilities as an actor goes far beyond what we’ve seen from him. Jon Bernthal is someone I wish we got more of, but his presence is undeniable every time he pops up on the screen. Matthew McConaughey shows up for a couple scenes, is awesome, and lays out all of the groundwork you need to understand the world you are about to dive into; he lingers over the rest of the picture. Kyle Chandler plays the good old boy FBI agent and that’s OK with me. He and DiCaprio gets one of the best scenes of the film when they go toe to toe. Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau, Spike Jonze, Shea Whigham, Cristin Milioti, P.J. Byrne, Ethan Suplee and Kenneth Choi round out the cast and, again, they are all so good you only wish you got more of them.

The Wolf of Wall Street continues to prove how great a year 2013 has been at the movies as Scorsese and DiCaprio continue to prove they are a team we need more of. A fantastic film that is not to be missed.

The Wolf of Wall Street is an A

3 thoughts on “Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

  1. I agree with most of your thoughts. The debauchery reached a new level. I would cringe, but my smile was too big.

    “By some miracle I made it home alive, not a scratch on me or the car.” Just brilliant filmmaking.

    However, you say that you wanted more. I think the movie could be reduced by 30 minutes. While I don’t have scenes in mind that should be removed, the subject matter just doesn’t necessitate that long of a running time.

  2. The film could be never ending and it would perfectly suitable for the subject matter. These guys can do whatever they want, when ever they want, for as long as they want, with zero repercussions.

  3. Wait, are you talking about Scorsese or Belfort? Do you think Scorsese showed less restraint because he took inspiration from Belfort? [not a serious question]

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