Victoria Jelinek

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall StJordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) dreams of being super rich, but after losing his Wall Street job in the crash of 1987, his hopes are dashed. Inspired by a shifty local operation that sells “penny” stocks to working class stiffs, Belfort starts his own dealership, hires a group of his degenerate buddies from high school to work for him, exploits those willing to invest in his firm, and manipulates the market, culminating in outrageous profits for him and millions spent on his decadent lifestyle.

The Wolf of Wall Street has been heralded as the first Scorsese film in a long time with the energy and substance of his early greats, such as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and GoodFellas. This is certainly the material of Scorsese’s classics – a criminal survivor story with an antihero who pushes the audience to the limits of its empathy. Jordan Belfort could be the worst of ‘em, too, as he exploits the poor and revels in his obscene wealth.  The movie clocks in at just under three hours long, also, which is typical of Scorsese. What is different about this Scorsese film is that it’s funny. Jonah Hill, who plays Belfort’s sidekick, is consistently and effortlessly hilarious as a hedonistic dipshit. Mathew McConaughey is comedic, and despite being in the film for only a short time, he leaves an indelible mark on it. It is DiCaprio’s performance, however – versatile, commanding, relaxed, powerful, complex, and humorous – that makes this movie magnetic. This film simmers in one’s thoughts long after leaving the cinema. Yes, it arguably glamorizes drugs, money, sex, arrogance, and selfishness, but I think that this is missing the point. Scorsese isn’t blaming Wall Street for its excesses, he’s pointing the finger at us for allowing the world to become so disturbingly greedy, with its aspirations for wealth and notoriety at any price. This is an invigorating and timely film.

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