“The Wolf of Wall Street” is about the rise and fall of one Jordan Belfort, a fast-talking con man selling penny stocks to unsuspecting clients to earn that whopping 50% commission, until he built up a financial empire with simply too much money than they know what to do with. Jordan and his cohorts, led by the loud and obnoxious Donnie Azoff, lead a life of unbridled debauchery, until the arms of the law finally catch up with them.
While this film seemed like it was celebrating the crime Belfort was perpetrating, director Martin Scorsese told it in a very frenetic and entertaining way. The structure of the film was odd though, as the first two hours plus was about the wild lifestyle Belfort had in the lap of luxury, but only the last 40 minutes or so was about his inevitable fall and retribution.
Leonardo DiCaprio summons again his inimitable charm and charisma we saw before in “Catch Me If You Can” to higher stakes criminal activity as Belfort. Leonardo amped up his millionaire characters in “The Aviator” and “The Great Gatsby”, giving everything he had for this role and his burning passion that oozes through the screen. He has this hilarious sequence when he had a catatonic fit after taking a strong drug, never knew Leo was capable of such physical comedy.
Jonah Hill playing Belfort’s reckless partner Donnie with rabid perversity, like “This Is The End” goes to New York high society. He has excellent chemistry with DiCaprio. The classy, beautiful and sexy Margot Robbie plays Naomi, the hot socialite who swept Belfort off his feet.
In smaller but still notable roles were Matthew McConaughey with a very short stint as Belfort’s first Wall Street mentor, Rob Reiner as Belfort’s prudent father, Jean Dujardin as Belfort’s European contact and Kyle Chandler as the FBI agent who wanted to bring Belfort down at all costs.
After the first one and half hours of the over-the-top excessively obscene lifestyle Jordan and pals live, you will feel that all of this depiction of debauchery is kind of getting too repetitive and long for comfort. There will be scenes of sexual orgies of all kinds to the point of misogyny. There will be multiple scenes of almost everybody taking drugs and all the wild effects. Your ears will feel numbed with all the foul language that was integrated in seemingly every one of their sentences.
However, the pedigree of the people behind this film, Scorsese and DiCaprio, the brilliant cinematography and opulent production design, all remind us that this is still an A-list project, not some raunchy blue movie drowning in kilos of cocaine and naked prostitutes.
I just think the first two hours felt like they could have been shortened without significantly affecting the plot. It could have lost some of the excessive scenes of excess. We got the point already.
7 out of 10 stars