Plot Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) dreams of being a rich stockbroker, but after losing his Wall Street job in the crash of 1987 he falls on hard times. Inspired by a dodgy local dealership, which sells cheap stocks to working-class people, Belfort goes into business by himself, manipulating the finance market and spending millions on his decadent lifestyle.
The Wolf Of Wall Street is the first Martin Scorsese film in a good while that feels as though, in a few years' time, it will join Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and GoodFellas in the canon. It arrives as Casino did with a lot of fanfare, but doesn’t quite deliver what many of us were expecting, and for some, it’s a film that might take a little bit of getting used to. Though it starts with a dash of the usual visual pyrotechnics, the tone is much straighter than we’ve come to expect, with longer, more intimate scenes and a much greater emphasis on script. But the oddest thing of all about The Wolf Of Wall Street is also the most unusual for a Scorsese film: it is incredibly, incredibly funny.
That the comedy is so effortless is another striking thing about Scorsese’s 23rd feature, since it is his first film since 1999’s Bringing Out The Dead — also rich in black humour — that doesn’t seem to be made to an Academy agenda. With The Wolf Of Wall Street, the director’s early energy comes flooding back. It’s big but not Gangs-Of-New-York epic, and it finally seems as though Scorsese is once again interrogating the material, finding the substance of the piece. On paper, the story of Jordan Belfort seems tailor-made for him — it is a criminal’s survivor story, with Wall Street as the Cosa Nostra of our times — but this isn’t GoodFellas with stocks and shares; it is a film with one eye on us, the audience. Like the very best of Scorsese’s work, it involves an antihero who pushes us to the very limits of our sympathy — Jake LaMotta, Rupert Pupkin, Travis Bickle — but Jordan Belfort might be the worst of the bunch. And it is the genius of the film, not only in Scorsese’s direction but in Leonardo DiCaprio’s untouchable performance, that three hours in the company of a man who exploits the poor and wallows in obscene wealth simply whizzes by.
It could just be that, for once, Scorsese has been looking around him. His Personal Journey series of docs famously stop at the point when he started making movies himself, so he doesn’t have to judge his peers, but The Wolf Of Wall Street has the air of a filmmaker looking round for ideas. Here, one can detect not only a little hint of his godchildren — Tarantino and P. T. Anderson spring to mind — but the sense that this is determined not to be a typical Scorsese movie. His camera stays longer than it used to, and though the trailer suggests lots of jittery rap, the needle-drops are shorter and less foregrounded than usual. In fact, there’s very little modern music, with Howlin’ Wolf’s pounding Smokestack Lightning accompanying much of the mayhem.
It also feels that Scorsese’s collaboration with DiCaprio has actually broached the levels of his early work with Robert De Niro. The Wolf Of Wall Street really feels organic in that way; whereas in Gangs Of New York and The Aviator DiCaprio seemed a little formal and staid, here he is completely off the chain. One might even wonder if the idea for a film like this was fomenting in the back of Scorsese’s brain as he filmed Jerry Lewis in The King Of Comedy — strip away the sex and drugs (God forbid, since that’s half the movie) and you have The Nutty Professor with the roles reversed. Jordan Belfort actually is the cool, smart, sophisticated Buddy Love, but with the aid of serious chemicals he transforms himself into the gibbering Dr. Julius Kelp.
DiCaprio is undoubtedly at his best here, completely in charge of his range and versatility. The slapstick elements are the most obvious proof of this — the scene in which he attempts to drive his car on vintage Quaaludes is just jaw-dropping — but it’s hard to think of another actor who could pull that off and then segue so seamlessly back into Belfort’s public persona. By the end of the film, Belfort has transformed from huckster to evangelist, and it is his messiah complex that brings about his downfall. Nevertheless, we buy into that too, and this is what the film does best: though we are often reminded that Belfort is a love rat, a drug addict and a con man who preys on the poor, these things rarely seem to matter.
This might well be because Scorsese has one eye on the backdrop, and around DiCaprio he has assembled one of his best ensembles ever. Leading the pack we have Jonah Hill as Belfort’s sidekick Donnie Azoff, a hedonistic putz with bizarre white teeth who gets some of the biggest and broadest laughs without ever straying into caricature. Matthew McConaughey comes and goes, but his presence is indelible, being not only hysterical but inspiring Belfort to adopt the business practices and lifestyle that will lead him to jail. Finally, though there isn’t very much for any woman to do in this movie, it’s worth mentioning that Margot Robbie is excellent as Belfort’s wife Naomi, slowly becoming the film’s conscience and emotional compass.
As regards the latter, the film plays fast and loose with its morality, setting up Belfort as the narrator of his own story to such an extent that when he crosses the line, as he so often does, Scorsese doesn’t comment. Instead, he shoves our noses in the huge pile of pharmaceutical cocaine that was, for a few years, Belfort’s life. And we inhale so deeply that it is only afterwards, when the comedown sets in, that we start to reflect on Jordan Belfort, what he did to make his money and what he did when he got it. It’s hardly a spoiler to say that Belfort gained a quasi-respectable fame through his notoriety, but The Wolf Of Wall Street joins a short sub-category of Scorsese films (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The King Of Comedy) in which troubled men become media celebrities as a direct result of their crimes and misdemeanours.
It doesn’t take an MA in film studies to see what’s going on here, and that’s what makes The Wolf Of Wall Street so invigorating. Scorsese isn’t wagging the finger at Wall Street, he’s wagging it at us, offering a mirror of the fucked-up world we’re living in. As Mark Twain once said, “Humour is tragedy plus time,” and as warnings from history go, it doesn’t get more timely than this.
Verdict Scorsese's funniest and most focused film in a long time, a jet-black sex and drug-soaked comedy featuring a bravura performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.
THis one of those films that splits its audience on one hand its great performances , good direction and story. Plus its really funny , the problem is that that character is not emphatic , female characters have less work to do and too much vulgarity. The Departed and Goodfellas ,Scorsese has the right ingredients in them and better conclusion this comes across as style over substance. Certainly better then Wall Street 2 with Shia le AARGHHHHH! ... More
The new three hour long Martin Scorsese about the money grabbing douche bags on Wall Street shows once again that Leonardo DiCaprio truly is one of the best actors of our time.
He is in every scene and shows a whole number of different emotions. He all makes it looks so very easy and he makes it all so believable without going over the top or becoming fake. Jonah Hill as DiCaprio`s buisiness partner is brilliant as well, finally he gives another great adult performance after his strong role in ... More
If DiCaprio isn't recognised after this, there is something seriously wrong. The Departed, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can - so many excellent performances over the years. The Wolf of Wall Street might not be everyone's cup of tea, but no-one can argue that DiCaprio isn't absolutely magnificent in it.
'd guess the 'excuse' would be being nominated in an exceptionally strong year and, for some, if not many, not being quite the strongest in that year. ... More
Excellent performances all round but honourable mentions go to Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and especially DiCaprio. A short, early scene, which sees a room full of people watching in awe as Belfort completes a sale, showcased DiCaprio's charisma for me - I almost felt like joining in with the on screen applause. Almost.
Like many other reviews, I agree that it could have lost some of the running time without suffering - about 2 hours in I wondered what the hell else could possibly happen - b... More
If DiCaprio isn't recognised after this, there is something seriously wrong. The Departed, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, Catch Me If You Can - so many excellent performances over the years. The Wolf of Wall Street might not be everyone's cup of tea, but no-one can argue that DiCaprio isn't absolutely magnificent in it. ... More
RE: The funniest, most truthful film I've seen in years.
Oh yeah, this was just fantastic entertainment and a brilliant piece of film making from Scorsese with a HUGE performance from DiCaprio who delivers not only his best ever, but one of the best performances by an actor of the last 10 years at least. Phenomenal, and I see no reason why I can't call him the best actor in the world after that. ... More
RE: The funniest, most truthful film I've seen in years.
I don't know when those 3 hours went by, an absolute masterpiece!! I loved every second of it. Scorsese, DiCaprio and the rest of the cast have outdone themselves. Leo's role was so amazing, that I think he just can't do something as creative and as exciting as the portray of Jordan Belfort. He was born to be one of the greatest actors to date, but he was most certainly born to play this role. Jonah, Jon Bernthal, Rob Reiner, Margot.. all of the cast, amazing job!! This movie will be a classic ... More
Martin Scorcese at his best!!!
Wolf of Wall Street is over indulgent, over the top, funny, provocative, outlandish, vulgar, obscene, violent, sexually explicit Scorcese, a swearathon epic just the way he used to make,..finally getting back on form again. From it's iconic Scorcese narration and visual slow motion / still impact we are introduced to Jordan Belfort (a brilliant Leonardo DiCaprio) who is first shown the stock market ropes by Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey).....in order to ... More
poor, flabby shambolic indulgent writing,acting and direction
The film and what story there is is weak at best, This is indulgent and messy film pales compared to Scorsese's better films. There is very little to like for me anyway. The main character is totally unlikable and this just making the film long and basically boring. I see enough dickheads in my life with out having to endure it on the screen for three hours..... ... More
First off I didn't hate the film! But... I thought it was a too long film about a hateful character/person, it's quite exhausting spending too long in the company of such a horrible personality. Some of the 'tamer' bawdy scenes reminded me of Benny Hill repeats, or that scene in one of the Monty Python films where a load of naked women chase a man off the top of a cliff!
I'm also not a huge fan of DiCaprio (understatement), I don't get his appeal; I don't see how people find him attractive (a... More
Fully warrants its 3-hour length in my opinion. Di Caprio's charesmatic depiction of Belfort never got tiresome and Hills role as Azoff provided the much needed ying to his yang. I gave it a 9/10
Very entertaining indeed, if a tad too long. Di Caprio owns this and reminds us that he really has some acting chops. This is all about greed and the environment of greed. And it is scary to think that much of this happened and that will make you hate bankers just that little bit more.... ... More
Although you can't actively 'like' Jordan Belfort, and certainly can't approve of his behaviour and actions, you can't help but admire that he got away with it for so long, and came out the other side with a story to tell. Less of a cautionary tale, more of a cautious boast, The Wolf of Wall Street is far more compelling, and entertaining, than it probably has any right to be in 2014.
s with most of your (wonderfully succinct) reviews, I agree completely.
In 1987, Jordan Belfort takes a stockbroker job at an established Wall Street firm. His boss advises him that the way to succeed is to forget the idea that the client should get some money from a sale, and to adopt a lifestyle of sex and cocaine. The firm fails after Black Monday, and Jordan finds himself out of work. His wife pushes him to take a job with a Long Island boiler room which deals in penny stocks. His aggressive pitching style soon earns him a small fortune. He befriends Donnie Azo... More
- 5/5etting the record for most frequently using the f-word (at 3.18 instances per minute), f of Wall Streetther fantastic piece from Martin Scorsese. Telling the story of Jordan Belfort who, like a sort of “twisted Robin Hood”, stole from the rich and the poor and gave to himself, the film delivers on all levels - direction, writing and cast.
Terence Winter’s screenplay is an homage to Scorsese’s classics, las]Casinoule-breaking narrative style is once again effective and constantly moves... More
Could have done with being shaven from the brow down
Cant fault the film other than what the title says - needs to be shaven, particularly the office hype scenes. Appreciate however that the copious amounts of fadge are just that though - nicely shaved. DiCaprio doing his Nicholson face to a T and calls on all his Gilbert Grape method acting to carry out most of the best scenes to aplomb. Great performance. ... More
If it’s a straight choice between watching this or American Hustle – put your money on Scorsese every time. The Wolf of Wall Street actually lives up to the hype. Bigger, badder with more convincing performances all around from an excellent cast , it’s a welcome return to form by one of the best living directors in Hollywood today. DiCaprio’s tour de force would easily win the best actor Oscar come March - if it wasn’t all so competitive this year – and if the... More
RE: The funniest, most truthful film I've seen in years.
I loved this film as well and of COURSE it should clean up at the Oscars, BAFTA's, Shafta's, Golden Globes etc etc everything and everywhere!
But it won't and that's fine by me. Funny, spell-binding and thought-provoking entertainment (all the reviews I have read not one person has also mentioned the film's attack on the LEGAL US drug industry after all biggest highs come from drugs that were once available on prescription befoe being banned. Makes you wonder what we're taking?!) and of co... More
I really enjoyed the film but I think there's a little too much praise going around for it. The pace of the film is what sets it apart from other lengthy films; it never feels slow or dull. DiCaprio turns in a fine performance but it felt a little too 'showy' for me - I never really believed in him during his motivational speeches to his fellow traders (he just felt a little weak in these scenes). I think he is best when doing subtle comedy like Catch Me If You Can and in various scenes in Th... More
The funniest, most truthful film I've seen in years.
Jordan Belfort is a Travelling Devil, the anti-Mary Poppins, breezing into his followers' quiet, desperate lives and teaching them how to live with style through financial independence and moral bankruptcy. According to Billy Wilder 'If you're going to tell people the truth, be funny or they'll kill you' and that never has that been truer than here. Watch it, laugh your ass off, then go find a stockbroker and piss in his champagne. And spare a cheer for the BBFC who let the UK see it uncut. ... More