Review

In his new film The Wolf of Wall StreetMartin Scorsese once again uses Leonardo DiCaprio to create another unique ride through the ups and downs of yet another illegal enterprise, Wall Street.  Written by Boardwalk Empire and Sopranos show-runner Terrence WinterMartin Scorsese’s new film looks at the life of Jordan Belfort, who used Wall Street to earn millions and earn himself the title “The Wolf of Wall Street”. This captivating film begins with a young Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), who is new to Wall Street and not yet a Stock Broker.  On his first day on Wall Street he is taken out to lunch by one of the firm’s owners Mark Hanna (Mathew MaConaughey), who lives a lavish lifestyle and would give Belfort the advice that would change his life.  Hanna uses cocaine and hookers to succeed in the game and once Belfort gets the taste of this life style he can’t get enough.  Jonah Hill plays Belfort’s right hand man Donnie Azoff, who originally quit his job to work for Belfort after finding out what he made in a month.  Azoff quits his job immediately after hearing that Belfort made $70,000 in a month alone and from there the two are always together and ride the train to success, potentially or inevitably to their downfall.  The 179 minute film begins with a once innocent man (Belfort) who, with drugs, sex, and money felt like he ruled the world, and more than ever Scorsese takes the audience for the wild ride that is a genuinely unique experience in a subject matter that had been done before, but never this well.

Leonardo DiCaprio easily steps into the role of crooked Wall Street broker Jordan Belfort and walks the audience through the experience.  Like in GoodfellasWolf is narrated by the lead to bring the audience up to speed on what is going on.  While the film is three hours long, the filmmakers still need to rush certain aspects of Belfort’s life and the voice-over works well to accomplish this.  Many times throughout the film DiCaprio breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience directly.  While I’m often hesitant of this device, it works wonders for the film they made.  This type of narration done by DiCaprio brings the audience into the film and makes you kind of like Belfort, or at least respect his hustle (which I know you shouldn’t).  The ups and downs of Jordan Belfort’s life are insane and it’s hard to imagine they actually happened.  Once you remember the film takes place in the 80′s it makes sense.  This was a time period before  AIDS devastated America and cocaine was the drug of choice, along with the highly popular quaaludes. Wall Street was ruled by sex and drugs, and Jordan Belfort was a guy who got caught up in what was, and still is like the Wild West ruled by outlaws who are above the law.

With Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio dominating much of the screen time, the remainder of the cast were excellent in adding to an already masterfully acted film.  Belfort’s second wife Naomi Lapaglia was played brilliantly by the beautiful Margot Robbie, who did more than hold her own next to an amazing performance from DiCaprio.  Matthew McConaughey was hilarious in his role of mentor, but was used more like a cameo rather than co-star.  As far as the acting goes, DiCaprio may find himself with a Oscar nod, and while Jonah Hill was funny and played his role very well, I don’t see a Oscar nod for him like he got with Moneyball in 2011.  Although the acting in Wolf was captivating, the thing that really brought me into the story was the way the film was shot.
if-you-liked-the-wolf-of-wall-street-then-youll-love-this-behind-the-scenes-videoMartin Scorsese and writer Terrence Winter hold nothing back in The Wolf of Wall Street, and I respect that tremendously.  This film will and already has offended and upset a lot of people.  In my screening alone, more than two couples walked out within an hour of the film beginning.  While they were older folks, people of all ages will be offended by the film and I applaud Scorsese’s and Winter’s determination.  The amount of sex and drugs in this film is shocking, but it seems like the raunchiness and obscenity was true to the times.  In his career going back to the late 60′s, Scorsese has been a director who is able to paint seemingly fairly accurate portrayals of certain situations, whether that be a group of kids getting mixed up with the wrong people in Mean Streets or the story of boxing legend Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.  Scorsese always changes the aesthetics of what his films look like and the way he shoots and presents them to benefit the subject matter that specific film takes on.  The shaky cam of Mean Streets added to the grittiness of the film, while he used 3D to perfection in Hugo.  Whatever the film calls for, Scorsese can deliver, and it’s amazing to watch him progress over time.  In The Wolf of Wall Street, he uses lots of sweeping camera shifts in the office to show the overall environment, and this brings you into the action as the viewer.  The Wall Street offices of the 80′s seemed like crazy places, and the camera vividly paints this picture in our minds. Quick cuts during drug scenes, the camera as the POV of a character walking through crowds, and party scenes are all shot uniquely, and at the end of the film you’re genuinely tired after feeling like you were right there with Jordan and crew as they attempt to rule the world, or at least have lots fun.

new-wolf-of-wall-street-trailer-leonardo-dicaprio-is-the-wealthiest-stockbroker-in-the-worldSince 2000 Martin Scorsese has made six movies, with Leonardo DiCaprio staring in all but one (2011′s Hugo).  Only Robert De Niro starred in more Scorsese films, with eight total covering three decades of collaboration.  Many of these collaborations have been regarded as some of Scorsese’s finest films, but as The Wolf of Wall Street shows he has plenty more up his sleeve.  DiCaprio and Scorsese have crafted their own legacy together, and while I always want Scorsese to work with another big actor, the end result of these collaborations are fantastic films, so I can’t really complain.

In a movie which I believe has over 500 “F” words, many sex scenes, constant drug use, and many other things people may find undesirable, it is important to remember that if you are easily offended The Wolf of Wall Street may not be for you.  But if you are looking to take a ride on one of the wildest, craziest, and funniest films of 2013, The Wolf of Wall Street is for you.  Wolf is one of the best movies of the year, and is another film that should get some attention come February.

 



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe

A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a “real” job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.