"The Wolf of Wall Street" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors working today, with Martin Scorsese being one of the best filmmakers to ever live. Whenever the two team up, they do incredibly well, as evident in "The Departed", "Gangs of New York", and "The Aviator", to name a few. So, when both of these incredibly talented men had a chance to tell the story of famous stockbroker turned convict, Jordan Belfort, I'm sure they jumped at the chance to work together and tell this crazy tale of money in a world of sex, drugs, and betrayal in perhaps one of Scorsese's absolute best films.
The movie chronicles Belfort's (DiCaprio) rise to the top as a stockbroker in New York. He starts out doing penny sheets (which are low level stocks), before being able to assemble his own team of stockbrokers and starting his mega company, Stratton Oakmont. Along the way, he falls head over heels for the duchess of Bay Ridge, Naomi Lapglia (Magot Robbie), who is a portrayal of his ex-wife Nadine Caridi.
Belfort thinks he has everything in the entire world. However, with all of this success and ecstasy, there also comes trials and tribulations. Not only has Belfort broken multiple laws when running his business, but he also faces problems with his wife and friends. This film, as a whole, serves as a representation of the saying that "money can't buy happiness".
The best thing about this movie, without a doubt, is DiCaprio's performance. DiCaprio is always able to fully embody whatever character he is playing, but it seems like he takes it to the extreme in this movie. When watching this movie, you don't see DiCaprio, but you rather see the character of Belfort and you're convinced that this actor has actually done these heinous crimes. It's spectacular and amazing to see an actor so committed to a role, and I definitely think out of DiCaprio's entire filmography, this is one of his absolute best roles.
Scorsese seems to evolve over time. Throughout the entire time he has been a director in American cinema, his films have always wowed audiences and pushed the limits of what can be shown on the screen. However, at the same time, his films are so excellently crafted and entertaining that one would forget they are watching a movie. You can see the difference he has in his previous films, like "Taxi Driver", compared to his newer films, like this one. He seems to know what the younger people present in this movie are thinking, and he is still able to make such a hip and fresh movie that both younger and older audiences alike can enjoy.
The movie also contains amazing performances from Robbie, Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna, and many more. They all have amazing on-screen chemistry with DiCaprio, and really embody their respective characters like DiCaprio has. Scorsese does a great job utilizing their cast to their biggest strengths, and it shows throughout how masterful this entire film is.
When I mentioned earlier that Scorsese is not afraid to push the boundaries and see what they can get away with on screen, this film is perhaps the biggest example of that. Not only does this movie contain the most uses of the F word in any Hollywood picture, but it also contains graphic depictions of sex and nudity, drug use, and much more. This is perhaps the most explicit mainstream Hollywood film, and it's honestly kind of surprising how they were able to pull it all off.
At the same time, however, I think the graphic depictions of such things is really what makes this movie what it is. It shows the realness of the Wall Street scene, and doesn't leave anything to the imagination. It really immerses the viewer, and makes them feel like they are experiencing everything that the characters are experiencing. One major example of this is when Belfort is tripping out on Quaaludes. Scorsese decides to shoot it in a way that we are seeing and feeling everything Belfort is feeling, and DiCaprio does a great job of bringing that feeling of drugs to the screen.
The story, as a whole, moves at a very nice and quick pace and doesn't lag or slow one bit. Even though this movie runs at three hours, it feels like it's over in a second leaving the viewer wanting more. The story glamorizes drug use and constant sex, showing how it helps the character and leads him to great things. But, when you enter the second half of the film, you see how it may feel good at the time, but it will lead to multiple problems down the road that you can possibly never recover from. I always wonder if this is a sort of personal project for Scorsese as he struggled with drug use before making his 1980 classic, "Raging Bull".
Scorsese definitely delivers a lot throughout this film, and he does everything flawlessly. This film just shows how Scorsese is still at his peak of greatness, and has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Let's just hope he rolls with this momentum, delivering another great film after another for as long as he lives.