Movie Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street

Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia

Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Production Companies: Red Granite Pictures, Appian Way Productions and Sikelia Productions
Director: Martin Scorsese
Producers: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Scriptwriter: Terence Winter
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau and Jean Dujardin
Released: December 25 2013 (US) and January 17 2014 (UK)
Running Time: 180 Minutes
Certificate: 18

It was a bitter and cold evening when I was asked to see a new movie, and not just any movie, but The Wolf Of Wall Street, the new, highly anticipated film from Martin Scorsese (Shutter Island, 2010; The Departed, 2006). I had seen the trailers, which did entice me a little; however, the running time of almost three hours slightly diminished my enthusiasm. Still, I did go and see it, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

The film is a true story about a young stock broker named Jordan Belfort, which covers his life and times, from his early days on the stock market to becoming one of the most powerful men in New York. The film angles its point of view from Jordan, played wonderfully by the ever-growing talent that is Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, 1997). This has struck controversy, which I will get onto a little later.

This film follows the narrative pattern that you would find in a Scorsese movie: for example, as is the case with many of his other films set in New York City, the lead protagonist is ultimately the victim of his own power, and therefore he usually loses everything by the end of the film. That’s the case here too, but that doesn’t reduce the entertainment provided, which explains the five Oscar nominations for this motion picture.

The opening scene of the film tells you everything you need to know about what to expect over the next three hours. It opens with our main character Jordan Belfort snorting cocaine off a young model, and the film continues in the same vein, in all honesty. The story does take many twists and turns along the way, which I expected with a long run-time. The strange thing for me was that everything in this film is about excess; from the money to the drugs to the girls, it is all about wanting more and more, and yet I never found myself hating or disliking the character like I thought I would when I had seen the trailers. This man is everything that I despise about rich self-centred people, but I still wanted things to work out well for him when I was watching the film. Maybe this is because he isn’t born into wealth and has to work his way to success, albeit illegally.

To be honest, I’m not sure whether it was DiCaprio’s performance or the directing by Scorsese, but I was interested in what was going to happen next to these characters. Jonah Hill is passable in this film; I’m not his biggest fan (I personally don’t understand all the fuss around him being funny, since most of his jokes revolve around his weight), but he is bearable in this movie. Margot Robbie plays Jordan’s second wife, and she plays the role well, but you don’t miss her when she is off-screen like you do with DiCaprio.

When this film was released, the critics slammed it for glorifying the life of a criminal who made his money by cheating other people out of theirs, and then spending it all on cars, boats, houses, booze, drugs and hookers. I understand where the criticism comes from, as this movie really does glorify the whole thing, but within the context of the movie, it works. If you are disgusted by these kind of people who exist and are the reason why the economy collapsed, then don’t waste your time viewing this film. It is meant to be a comedy drama that, at times, makes light of everything Jordan Belfort did, but there are also points in the film which are very serious, such as the moment when Jordan hits his first wife Naomi. This is been edited to make the moment even more sinister, and is shot to make it as dramatic as possible.

In actual fact, my main issue with this movie is that, as is the case with many long films, it feels like it lasts thirty minutes too long. I enjoyed myself for two and a half hours, but then my body was telling me that I’ve seen enough. That’s not to say that the final half-hour is poor, but the movie as a whole could have been shortened and the overall story wouldn’t have suffered as a result.

“My name is Jordan Belfort; the year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars! Which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” This line in the trailer really does sum up Jordan Belfort, who after losing everything is now a rehabilitee, and a lecturer on how to become a good sales pitcher. That’s the one thing the movie does get across well about Jordan: his main passion is sales, and this skill is seen in abundance from the beginning.

To conclude, The Wolf Of Wall Street is brilliant at what it aims to do, which is to glorify the life of a rich criminal (perhaps to maximise the impact it has on Jordan when he loses everything), and the performance from DiCaprio is Oscar-worthy; however, the running time does let it down by the end.

Overall Rating: 8/10 – Very Good