Published on January 20th, 2014 | by Allan Brown4
The Wolf of Wall Street Review
Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (2014)
Running Time: 180 mins
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Terence Winter (screenplay), Jordan Belfort(book)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner
Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio reunite to take the plunge into a sleazy world of debauchery and excess in The Wolf of Wall Street.
The film recounts the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young, fast talking, ambitious stockbroker from New York, who ultimately lets his own desire and greed become his downfall.
The story begins shortly before the colossal Wall Street crash of 87, a crash that would see the fresh faced, newly quailed stockbroker Jordan Belfort unemployed. Without work, Belfort takes a job at a small run-down company, dealing in worthless uninspiring penny stocks. However, upon realising the whopping 50% commission he would receive for each unit sold, Belfort quickly goes to work, using his charm to unload the worthless stock onto unsuspecting clients. It isn’t long before Belfort is making a small fortune, a small fortune that would in turn put him in contact with future business partner, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill).
Scorsese once again captains the ship like no other, with all his familiar stylistic flourishes and nuance’s present and correct
Before long, Belford is forging his own path in the stock market with his new company Stratton Oakmont, and as his financial empire rapidly grows, so too does his taste for a life of substance abuse, lavish parties and uninhibited debauchery, financed solely by corporate greed. However, it isnt long before he and Stratton Oakmont appear on FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) radar, and so begins the investigation.
Scorsese once again captains the ship like no other, with all his familiar stylistic flourishes and nuance’s present and correct. From his stunning technically complex tracking shots that seamlessly sync his trademark off-screen narrations with on screen dialogue, to the slick and punchy screenplay scribed by Terrence Winter that injects a bold and exciting pace to the narrative, all of which result in one of the most confident films of the year.
The Wolf of Wall Street marks Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese fifth collaboration together that has spanned over a decade. From their first introduction at the wrap party of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and the subsequent whispering in the director’s ear from one Robert DeNiro (whom DiCaprio worked with on one of his first features This Boy’s Life) has resulted in one of the strongest actor / director teams in Hollywood to date.
While watching Belfort and his team’s hedonistic lifestyle is certainly entertaining, when it dominates over 2/3s of the films narrative, it does start to risk becoming tiresome and overindulgent.
DiCaprio is someone I have had the benefit of watching grow and mature as an actor (in real time) ever since his beguiling performance as Toby in This Boy’s Life in 1993 (Trailer). With every role DiCaprio takes, he challenges himself, and where it might be said there are better actors in his generation with more range, DiCaprio for me at least, is one of the few who show improvement with every role. He exudes a dedication and passion to develop and fine tune his trade, and here with The Wolf of Wall Street he doesn’t disappoint again dazzling in his portrayal in what is in my opinion his strongest performance to date.
He he not only summons an unmatched charm and charisma as Belfort that is crucial to the role, but also showcases some hilarious physical comedy in many of the films outlandish comical sequences (Lemons).
Jonah Hill plays Belfort’s reckless business partner Donnie Azoff and while the actor does accentually play a toned down version of the same Jonah Hill we all know, he does offer a few different shades to his repertoire. However, it is his presence and on screen chemistry with DiCaprio that is truly electric.
The beautiful and sexy Margot Robbie plays Naomi, the one girl to sweep Belfort off his feet and the relatively new Australian actress plays the role and added sex appeal with ease.
Matthew McConaughey as Belforts Wall Street mentor, Rob Reiner as Belforts level headed yet overly forgiving father, Kyle Chandler as FBI agent Patrick Denham and Jean Dujardin as Belforts Swiss banker although in smaller roles make up the near flawless cast.
However, with all the high diving technical achievements and acting prowess the film does stumble in a few other areas, most notably its bloated 3 hour running time. While watching Belfort and his team’s hedonistic lifestyle is certainly entertaining, when it dominates over 2/3s of the films narrative, it does start to risk becoming tiresome and overindulgent.
Despite initial impressions of The Wolf of Wall Street playing into the crime genre as a cautionary tale, Scorsese refuses to allow it to be, or at least refuses to explore the destruction Belfort left in his wake . Sure, Belfort is a mess for much of the film and all that is real in his life slips away from him as he slowly looses focus, blinded by his own greed. However, too little time is spent on the consequences of his actions to allow a balanced conclusion to the story, but again this was Mr Scorsese’s intentions. In an interview, DiCaprio goes on to say; “We purposely didn’t show (Belfort’s) victims. We wanted the film to be a hypnotic ride the audience gets on so they get lost in this world and not see the destruction left in the wake of this giant ship of greed”
Summary: Despite its repetitive nature, Scorsese's adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s hypnotic memoir is perhaps one of the darkest and most fun comedies of the year. It is as vulgar as it is hilarious and DiCaprio smashed every scene in assured brilliance.