Based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street follows his rise from a penny stockbroker in a Long Island strip mall in the 80’s to a tycoon, complete with mansions, a helicopter, luxury cars, a yacht, a model wife and lots of drugs and hookers. The movie is shameless, vulgar, savage, filthy, and a hilarious re-telling of Belfort’s maniacal and short reign at the top, masterfully crafted by director Martin Scorsese.
Jordan Belfort was the ambitious and charismatic founder of a white-shoe criminal enterprise disguised as a legitimate brokerage firm named Oakmont Stratton, who made himself and his partners fabulously wealthy at the expense and exploitation of the desperation of the broader American public and got off nearly scot free--even after multiple fraud convictions. But this film could care less about the victim’s of his crimes. This is not a message movie. This film is about Belfort living high on the hog at the expense of other's desires to get rich. And he lived comfortably in the abyss as long as there was a multi-million dollar cushion to sleep on every night.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives a wildly mesmerizing and over the top performance as Belfort, narrating his own tale with the smirk and the swagger of Anthony Robbins mixed with Gordon Gecko high on Quaaludes, Xanax, Adderall, Weed, Morphine and Cocaine “because it’s awesome.” For three quick hours, DiCaprio (and his merry band of broker thieves) bang hookers, snort coke from the cracks of hooker’s asses, do copious amounts of drugs and live lavishly at the highest velocity in a wash of testosterone, adrenaline and insanity. His fellow cast mates are also impressive. Jonah Hill embraces his inner scumbag as Jordan’s right hand man Donnie Azoff, Margot Robbie gives a stellar performance as Jordan’s second wife Naomi and Matthew McConaughey delivers a scene stealing performance as Jordan’s mentor in a brief scene schooling him on money, masturbation and coke. DiCaprio will get a best actor nod at the Oscar’s nomination ceremony, if not; someone really has it out for dude at the academy.
From the first person narration to the clever soundtrack, the movie plays like a master course in cinematic excellence. The screenplay by Terence Winter featuring set pieces about the various grades of prostitutes, inner-family marriage and gay sex is hilarious and a marvel of indecency. In addition, recent critics of director Martin Scorsese will be astonished at the brilliance of this bacchanal masterpiece that follows in the cinematic footsteps of other Scorsese classics, Goodfellas and The Departed. In fact, Jordan Belfort reminded me a lot of Goodfellas’ protagonist Henry Hill. They are both men that did despicable things, but I liked them both and although they broke the law I found myself rooting for them. Similarly, at the end both characters endure the same fate.
If you are, looking for a cautionary tale about the evils of Wall Street bankers or a scathing indictment of capitalism this movie is not for you. The Wolf of Wall Street is a tour de force of gorgeous filth and is not a film for the faint of heart. The greed, debauchery and decadence of the lifestyles of the rich and sleazy are all on display here. I will admit that the film could have been a half an hour short. A three-hour running time is a bit self-indulgent, but my criticism ends there. The Wolf of Wall Street is not thoughtful or groundbreaking. However, if you are a fan of excellent film making and incredible acting, you will not be disappointed.