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The Wolf of Wall Street - Reelworth
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The Wolf of Wall Street

January 05, 2014 By Mike B
Movie Review

The Wolf of Wall Street Film Review

What Worked?

Money, girls, drugs; that’s the American Dream. Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio team up once again to give us a portrayal of what the American Dream has become in the Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a man addicted to money that feeds his addiction with his talent as a cutthroat go-for-broke stockbroker.

Scorsese shows that he’s still in top form with this film, giving us a black comedy with gold-plated teeth that is hard to ignore. Just like he did with gangsters in Goodfellas, Scorsese romanticizes the life of a stockbroker. The rags to riches story is a classic, and Scorsese can direct the hell out of that story with one hand tied behind his back. The typical Scorsese flair, such as dolly shots, quick cuts, and breaking the fourth wall, are all present in the film. He also tries something new in digging into what certain characters are thinking during a scene. The script is entertaining, raucous, and sexy, while still being a fantastic study of a man in love with money.

He’s not a rap god, he’s a stockbroker with brass balls, and an addiction to being “the man.” DiCaprio gives arguably his best performance to date as Jordan Belfort. He really shines, as he shows us his tenacious ambition to be a golden stock broker, his cocky, hilarious attitude, and his epic drug addiction. On the other hand, DiCaprio shows us how Jordan’s raw aggression eats at his life  both physically and mentally. Belfort lives like a king, but we definitely see the greed in his eyes that sets him up for his long free fall to the can. DiCaprio is magnetic, brash, and darkly funny, but he also shows flashes of the goodness in Jordan that’s almost completely buried by his vices. Oscar worthy? Definitely. DiCaprio owns this movie, from his rousing speeches to his brokerage team, to his sales swagger, to his accuracy depicting a drug addict, especially his hilarious scene taking a “lemmon” for the first time. DiCaprio’s takes on physical comedy, and succeeds.

There are quite a few supporting actors in this film, but Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff was an unforgettable, infectious mixture of odd and hilarious. Donnie is Jordan’s wingman, and he never fails to deliver when he’s on screen. His cocky attitude mirrors Jordan, and he’s just as crazy, but in his own special way.

The Wolf of Wall Street is another rags to riches story, but DiCaprio knocks it out of the park with his performance that you won’t mind the familiar story. What Jordan makes for himself in the film is a hellish paradise on Earth, and there’s a side in everyone that wants what he has. What’s the point of the film? C.R.E.A.M.

Potential Drawbacks:

The pace of the film is fantastic, but it still feels bloated, as the run time is a minute  shy of three hours. There are a good amount of scenes that feel repetitive, and although all of the scenes are effective, they’re not all necessary. A good 20 minutes or so could have been cut from the film, and we wouldn’t have missed anything.

Some people many not like the point of the film. It really is a character study at heart, where the point is really to observe this character’s obsession with money. For some, Jordan Belfort might be a character that’s too disgusting to like or at least connect to.

Lastly, Scorsese isn’t really doing anything new here. The film feels self-referential, and that might have some people saying “I like this better when it was called (insert better Scorsese film here).”

Film Recommendations:

Goodfellas

The Departed

The Aviator 

Constructive debates are welcome, but personal attacks are not. If you feel a comment is offensive or considered spam, please feel free to flag it.

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