The Wolf of Wall Street takes you through the extraordinarily flamboyant rise to riches of Jordan Belfort and his inevitable downfall due to dodgy deals and heavy sex, money and drug addictions.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Belfort, a talented young stockbroker who rapidly discovers a method of making money illegally upon setting up his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. And right from the word go, Belfort’s only plan is to obtain an obscenely rich status. Jonah Hill plays Belfort’s overweight, nerdy sidekick Donnie Azoff, and together work in search for their millions. However, living the life on endless prostitutes, copious amounts of drugs, huge houses and plenty of sports cars, Belfort inevitably faces jail time for his crooked deals.
When the FBI begin sniffing, headed by Agent Patrick Denham, played by Kyle Chandler, Belfort and Azoff desperately seek means of hiding their dirty money using contacts in Switzerland and Britain. This leads to short but smart cameos from Jean Dujardin and Britain’s own treasure, Joanna Lumley, who plays Aunt Emma, Belfort’s aunt-in-law.
Martin Scorsese manages to replicate the wild, ostentatious lifestyle of Belfort and his team with the almost unbelievable quantities of drug and sex abuse using his own style of filmmaking. He also returns to his Goodfellas narration technique, which offers a keen eye into the greed driven lifestyle of the contemptible wealthy. This therefore works well for the film, with Belfort splitting personality based on his portrayal. It’s hard to feel empathy when things turn sour, yet you also want him to find an ulterior motive rather than leading his unhealthy lifestyle. The film is entertainingly shocking and explicit and for a three hour film, its snappy scenes and fast paced reflection on its events make it fly by as well as its black comical back bone.
DiCaprio and Hill are at their absolute best on every drug-induced front and both are involved in some extraordinary set pieces.
Perhaps not Scorsese’s best work, yet The Wolf of Wall Street is a highly exhilarating piece of film based on a quite incredible lifestyle of someone with more money than they know what to do with.