As the movie begins, Jordan Belfort is 26 and has earned 49 M$ in a year as as the head of his own brokerage firm. He owns a huge house, drives a Ferrari and is married to a smoking hot blonde. He also has all the best toys money can buy, from a private jet to a 170 foot yacht. “Oh yeah, and I love drugs.”We learn all this in an exhilarating early montage narrated by Belfort who, in addition to talking to us via voice-over, also addresses the audience directly while staring into the camera on a few occasions. So yeah, he loves drugs, all kinds of drugs, but his absolute favourite drug is the one most of America is addicted to: cold hard cash. Our protagonist wasn’t born rich, though. He started from the bottom (like Drake) and made his fortune through sheer willpower, which is rather impressive… Until you realize that some of his methods were illegal. Furthermore, it’s openly stated in the film that pretty much everything that happens on Wall Street is bullshit. It’s all about convincing people that they can get rich quick by buying this or that stock. But ultimately, it’s nothing more than salesmanship and gambling. That’s capitalism for you, sir.
I certainly know that I could never be involved in that kind of business, but to some, like Belfort, working on Wall Street is “like mainlining adrenaline.” And I could go on quoting lines from Terence Winter’s killer screenplay, which is filled with eminently quotable, often hilariously vulgar dialogue. It also features razor-sharp storytelling, instantly hooking you in and keeping you deeply involved for some three hours. Smart, fast-paced and full of energy as it is, it reminded me of “The Social Network”.
With the great Martin Scorsese at the helm, it also can’t help but make you think of his previous rags-to-riches epics, “GoodFellas” and “Casino”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street” fully deserves to be mentioned alongside those classic flicks. The only major difference between “Wolf” and the previous two is that it deals with white-collar crime instead of gangsterism and it’s not as graphically violent, though ruining people is its own form of violence. And what Scorsese’s latest lacks in violence, it more than makes up for in sex!
This is a relentlessly dirty movie, populated by a harem and a half of hookers! For that, among other things, it must have been one of the rowdiest film shoots of all time. And thankfully, it’s equally fun to watch for us. Even as the FBI comes a-knocking, Belfort’s (second) marriage is crumbling and the party seems about to end, it remains exciting. It’s maybe a bit self-indulgent at times, but that’s sort of the point. Messy or not, it’s brilliant filmmaking all the way.
It can also count on a wonderful cast, starting with Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s totally on fire in the lead role. Around him, we get tremendous performances from Jonah Hill as his sidekick, Margot Robbie as his (second) wife, Kyle Chandler as a FBI agent and many others, including Matthew McConaughey, who practically steals the film in only one scene.
Simply put, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the best thing I’ve seen all year.