Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese join forces once again to bring you the most controversial film of the year. DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who has a talent for manipulating people into purchasing penny stocks. This leads to an extreme fortune for Belfort and his associates, but it turns into a wild ride as the FBI starts zeroing in on his firm. The picture is based on the real Jordan Belfort’s autobiography of the same name, which makes it even more awesome and difficult to believe that the events in the film actually took place. There should’ve been an epic pause scene where the audience was reminded that it was still a true story, just like there was in last year’s Pain and Gain.
Leonardo DiCaprio is fucking brilliant. It’s easily in his top five, if not top three, greatest performances ever. He was especially fantastic in the comedic scenes, which says a lot about his talent, considering he has done very few comedies throughout his career. There was one drug-induced scene in particular that should have earned Leo an Oscar all by itself. While I haven’t seen Dallas Buyer’s Club, and Matthew McConaughey has in recent years proved that he is a fine actor himself, I can’t imagine that his performance was so significantly better than Leo’s that the Academy voters couldn’t bring themselves to take DiCaprio’s long list of snubs into consideration before placing their ballots. It really seemed like it was finally Leo DiCaprio’s year, which made it that much more disappointing. Speaking of Matthew, I enjoyed his brief role as Belfort’s boss Mark Hanna, but I didn’t feel like I needed to see more of his character like I have heard some people say they did. I was so into the movie after his brief appearance toward the beginning that I almost forgot his character existed.
While I was impressed with Jonah Hill’s performance as Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s business partner and friend, it’s still difficult for me to wrap my head around the phrase “two-time Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill,” especially considering his resume before his breakout role that earned him his first and less deseriving nomination for Moneyball in 2012. I mean, think about it: he now has two times as many Oscar nods as Gary Oldman, who is nearly twice Hill’s age. It’s somewhat mind-boggling.
The most underappreciated role goes to Margot Robbie, who played Naomi, Belfort’s second wife. She is not only gorgeous, but she also pulled off a damn convincing Brooklyn accent. I was surprised to learn that the actress is Australian. Her portrayal of a woman who struggles as the man she thought she loved starts to show his true colors is outstanding, and it’s a shame Robbie didn’t receive more recognition. An MTV Movie Award nomination doesn’t cut it.
Some people have criticized the film for glorifying criminals who take advantage of people the way Jordan Belfort did, but I cannot see why. As much as they displayed Belfort’s lavish lifestyle, they focused on his downfall during the third act and made me realize very quickly that I would rather never become that rich and destroy my life the way Jordan destroyed his. While there were certain scenes where I sympathized with his character, overall I saw him as a selfish, deceitful, cold-hearted, borderline evil person who was obsessed with money. Anyone with common morals would be able to see that what the characters were doing is wrong, and for anyone who can’t, that says a lot about him or her as a person.
One fun fact about the film is that it holds the record for the most uses of the word “fuck” in a mainstream non-documentary film. There were also a lot of drugs. And sex. A LOT of sex. Ok, some scenes were borderline pornographic. But omitting these parts of the story or even just toning it down would not do it justice. The point of the movie is that it’s showing the main character’s rise and fall and the consequences of his actions, and the filmmakers needed to present the plot as realistically as possible in order to maximize its impact on the audience.
The film is three hours long, and while it didn’t really feel like it was quite that long, there is a lot going on and I definitely feel the need to watch it again. I have already heard some people say that they enjoyed it even more upon second viewing. The Wolf of Wall Street was just recently released on DVD and Blu-ray, so I highly recommend you pick up a copy so you can watch it as many times as you want.