Martin Scorsese could direct a film about paint drying and grass growing, and I’d pay the full admission price to see it. The man is a legendary artist and has a vision for film like no other. The Wolf of Wall Street is no exception, and the visual work of Scorsese stands out in this dark comedy. Another thing that stands out is all the hookers and blow – the guys on Wall Street know how to party.
This film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and highlights the way that money and power can change a person’s character, especially on Wall Street. Belfort gets his start in New York City as a phone-dialer at a large investment company and on his first day finds inspiration in the trading industry through Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey). After the stock market crash of 1987, Belfort is left for broke and stumbles across a job opportunity in a penny stock firm in Long Island. With his sales prowess, Jordan quickly gets back on his feet, swindling the hard-working middle class into low-value investments. He then teams up with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to start their own investment firm trying to push the high-commission penny stocks onto larger investors. The rest focuses on the ups and downs of Belfort’s investments, relationships, drug addiction, money laundering, and overall well-being.
The Wolf of Wall Street is many things, one of them being very lengthy – make sure to bring one of those portable urinals in with you. At three hours, it kind of feels like the film is a careful and brilliant stitching of six 30-minute shorts of the most seminal occurrences in Jordan Belfort’s career as a criminal. It’s one of those situations where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Although there are some lulls, the regularity of extreme situations in The Wolf of Wall Street do a fairly good job at keeping attention throughout – it’s like Forrest Gump for the trading industry…and everyone is as blown out as Jenny.
DiCaprio gives a phenomenal performance; I don’t think I’ve ever felt so many emotions toward a character – hope, envy, disdain, hatred, pity – he evokes all of them and then some. Even though this might not be my favorite Leo role (I’m a sucker for Titanic), it might be his best shot at an Oscar yet…so long as he can fend off a chubby Christian Bale from American Hustle. Speaking of, these films are also pitted against each other in the Comedy/Musical genre for the Golden Globes, and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top since they’re similar yet so different at the same time. At its core, The Wolf of Wall Street is a story of how people of good moral value can become desensitized to the greed and power of Wall Street as well as the vices of fast-paced high society.
Review By: Jason C.