Movie Review: “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Dec. 25: Stock-market shenanigans: Left to right: Jonah Hill plays Danny and Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." (Courtesy Mary Cybulski/MCT)
Dec. 25: Stock-market shenanigans: Left to right: Jonah Hill plays Danny and Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” (Courtesy Mary Cybulski/MCT)

Gina Scialabba/The Guardsman

You’ve probably heard the hype about director Martin Scorsese’s latest film, “The Wolf of Wall Street”—the f-word is dropped an unprecedented 506 times in the three-hour long film, there’s an orgy on an airplane, Jonah Hill eats a goldfish and also masturbates in the middle of a house party. And then there’s the rampant drug use.

Yes, that’s all true. But, you should see the movie for yourself and ask what Scorsese is really trying to expose.

He presents audiences with a raw, unapologetic and unnerving immorality tale about life as a stockbroker.

It’s meant to offend. It’s meant to make you uncomfortable. It’s a didactic all-American story about our prolific greed culture where individualism and profit seeking have frayed our social fabric. Men become monsters overnight all for money.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays real-life Jordan Belfort, a financial scoundrel who runs the unethical brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont.

The firm is wildly successful—so successful that employees are making unthinkable amounts of cash and having extravagant office parties complete with a dwarf-throwing contest.

Along the way he partners up with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), finds a trophy wife (Margot Robbie) and does every despicable thing a human can do, but still needs more and more.

Things go south, however. Belfort is investigated for fraud and money laundering by FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler). Belfort’s kingdom is about to fall.

DiCaprio gives the best performance of his career. He is the epitome of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, portraying ruthless and cunning in a shiny package. DiCaprio throws himself into the role with reckless abandon, a feat called for by a character as large as Belfort.

DiCaprio becomes a reckless hedonist with an appetite for hard drugs and sex.

Jonah Hill once again plays Jonah Hill—the sidekick guy who’s usually funny, but hard to take seriously. He makes a good addition to the movie, but definitely not Oscar-worthy in this role.

Here are perhaps my more important criticisms. There’s a part in the movie where Belfort does one-too-many drugs and can’t control his motor skills.  The whole scene is in poor taste and very mocking of a serious disease—cerebral palsy. The film has come under fire for this portrayal.

What also disturbed me was the movie’s disregard for women. I can’t say I’m too surprised. In staying true to Belfort’s book, sexism is commonplace. Women are used, abused, discarded and a whole fresh batch is brought in.

The women who do work at Stratton Oakmont are there for pure entertainment, sexual favors and an occasional head shaving. It’s hard watching Scorsese once again portray women so negatively.

Should you go? Yes, to see what all the hype is about. Yes, to be completely shocked by Belfort’s lifestyle and talk about it with your friends later. Yes, because it’s Scorsese at his most brilliant, even if you don’t agree with the premise of the film. Yes, because it’s one of the strongest contenders for the Oscar this year. Just take a nap before you go. It’s a long ride.

If you go……

Run Time: 180 Minutes

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Biography

Opening Date: 25 December 2013

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Based on the Book by Jordan Belfort


Leonardo DiCaprio

Jonah Hill

Margot Robbie

Kyle Chandler

Matthew McConaughey

Rob Reiner

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