It’s a life style that most of us only dream of- having so much money you don’t know what to do with it all. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a look at one man living that dream in three hours of drugs, debauchery, and greed. While the running time might be a bit much for some, when in the right hands time flies. Martin Scorsese is definitely able to keep the story moving forward and prove he’s still got it.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who swindled investors through his Stratton Oakmont firm in the 1990s. Belfort is your rags to riches, come from nothing story of a man with a dream. His dream was to be rich. He achieved it with marketing penny stocks, and fraudulent stock sales. After building his empire with dimwit buddies, Belfort believes he’s invincible. The same pride that takes him to the top, also brings him back down.
The story is told with the same quick witted narration style of “Goodfellas”. Belfort is the anti-hero that we know is deplorable but can’t take our eyes off of. No matter how many relationships and lives he ruins, including his own, Scorsese keeps us wondering what could possibly be next in the downward spiral of Belfort’s life.
DiCaprio throws himself into the role and manages to embody the sleaze as only a veteran actor can. Jonah Hill is funny but a bit over the top as Belfort’s right hand, Donnie Azoff. His fake teeth and accent make it easy for him to slip into caricature. Yet, that’s the issue with the film in general in that everyone is excessive. That said, I was exhausted after watching the slime-ball characters use money to do whatever they want by the end of the first hour. By the end of the film Scorsese has us right where he wants us, worn out and just as contaminated as Belfort for watching.
Scorsese and DiCaprio manage to put together some hilarious moments throughout the film as their trust has grown for one another in their fifth collaboration. In one epic scene, Belfort and Azoff pop old quaaludes and take a few too many thinking they aren’t working. Belfort looses the ability to control his body in what he calls the “cerebral palsy phase” of the affects of the drug. DiCaprio is hilarious in his physicality in the scene.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is one of those films that you probably will only experience once in your lifetime because of the depths of the drug invested, immoral, filth that you have to wade through in the three hour wide. It’s the well constructed direction of Martin Scorsese that makes the experience a once in a lifetime ride!