The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) - 8 / 10
“Let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a poor man, and I've been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time.” - Jordan Belfort
I'll just start by saying that I’m not a fan of Scorsese’s work. I really enjoyed a couple of his movies, but I never liked his style in particular and I’m not chasing after or prioritizing his movies.
The Wolf of Wall Street is too much of everything: sex, drugs, profanity, laughs, dialogue, narration.
From the opening shot of DiCaprio snorting cocaine from between a prostitute's open legs, this is 3 hours of absolute depravity. And it's hilarious.
This was the fifth collaboration between much lauded director Martin Scorsese and, until now, Oscar looser Leonardo DiCaprio. Looking at the other 4 movies - Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006) and Shutter Island (2010) - The Wolf of Wall Street signals the moment the two finally took the step over the edge.
The film somewhat comes close to Scorsese's older film, Goodfellas: a man who love affairs, with a job that betrays both of his marriage and any moral standards, however the guy lacks the sympathy which defines the character's humanity. The main character's human figure here has all the negative sides. Compare him to the other goodfella, his motivations and attempts are much insignificant, because of course, he has it all.
The combination of Scorsese's narrative and Leonardo DiCaprio's performance creates a profound feeling of hatred towards Belfort. Despite having this ability of character development and appeal to the audience, the film severely lacks in describing exactly what crimes Belfort actually committed on Wall Street. The lack of factual details behind the true story is instead taken up by screen time consisting of Belfort's drug use and addiction to sex.
DiCaprio plays the perfect antihero: Belfort is a liar, he cheats on his wife, he steals money from people, he is constantly drugged out of his mind and so on. Still, it's very difficult to hate him, and I think most people actually envy him: who wouldn't want to have so much money, so that you can throw $100 bills in the trash without blinking? DiCaprio's performance is wonderful, and I hope he'll finally win the Oscar he deserves.
Also nominated for Oscar (again, after Moneyball) is Jonah Hill, playing Belfort's neurotic business partner, Donnie Azoff. It was recently revealed that Hill accepted without even thinking, the minimum pay of $60,000 for this role, simply because he was desperate to work with Scorsese, one of his heroes. This enthusiasm is immediately visible as he takes the role like a starved cat to food. His chemistry with DiCaprio is effortless and unforced, creating a warm, humorous and believable relationship upon which the movie basically survives.
Hill gave the performance of his acting career, the character had deeper roots than his normal characters and it allows you to see a different side of his acting.
It's hard to believe that Jonah Hill is that same actor that played the goofy kid in “Superbad” way back in 2007. It's the best performance of his I think I've seen (maybe even better than in Moneyball). For those 3 hours he genuinely was Donny Azoff, and played the role perfectly.
The beautiful Margot Robbie plays Jordan's second wife, Naomi. Robbie is great in her role, seducing and sexual yet trustworthy, Naomi is not just the eye candy in the movie and it’s quite easy for such a sexually based character to be objectified in films, whereas Robbie triggers real emotion of sympathy from the audience towards the end of the movie in various Jordan related scenes.
Also notable strong performance from Rob Reiner (his dad) and Kyle Chandler (FBI agent). And for only few scenes, Matthew McConaughey, as Belfort's mentor, Mark Hanna, steals the show in his usual way, that reminded me of his role from Magic Mike.
The only criticism I would perhaps make, and I’m really picky here, is the running time. At 3 hours, I'll admit there was a slight lapse in my concentration and I think that some dialogues could have been slightly shortened.
The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the most brutal, honest and smart films I have seen in the past 5-6 years. Done with a twisted, dark sense of humor, we see the effect money has on people, and its almost impossible to dislike any of the characters, despite them being money grubbing, cocaine sniffing, deceptive, womanizing, yet extremely ingenious and dexterous individuals.