The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013): USA

Reviewed by Allison Fuerst. Viewed on DVD.

From the moment Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) introduces Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) to the luxuriously reckless lifestyle of a Wall Street stockbroker, viewers can’t help but enjoy the ride as he gives in to his zealous temptations and is induced into the life of excessive drug abuse and enticingly scandalous affairs.
Along with his partner in crime, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Belfort ravenously dives deeper into the clutch of self-destruction eventually loosing sight of any core values and meaning in life. Believing in his own invincibility, the egotistic penny stockbroker’s refusal to relinquish his erratic behavior ultimately leads to his downward demise. He even attempts to bribe cops reflecting is inability to recognize the consequences involved with negligent decisions.

Set in the 1980s, director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter Terrence Winter elegantly infuse the genres of crime, comedy and drama allowing greater appeal for a wide variety of audiences. Similar to that of his masterpiece Goodfellas, Scorsese does not hold back on violence, drug abuse, nudity and language further helping to convey the raw behavior of a raunchy industry. After a hard day’s worth of scams, Belfort rewards his employees with a floor filled with strippers and prostitutes.

Motivated to work with the legendary director, Hill successfully takes on a more austere role as opposed to his usual comedic character in movies. A breakthrough in his career, this movie exemplifies Hill’s ability and willingness to grow as an actor and take on more dynamic characters. Similarly, DiCaprio convincingly portrays the role of the self-made millionaire who seemingly believes that people’s hard earned money is better kept in his pocket. This is in resemblance to his role as con artist, Frank Abagnale Jr., in Catch Me If You Can with both films based off of true stories.

While viewers are able to understand Belfort’s ultimately negative consequences that derive from his shoddy choices, the movie provides no relief to the many individuals who unfortunately fell victim to Belfort’s scams. The movie is flat in that it does not offer an alternative perspective failing to emphasize the deceitful nature of his crimes, which is depicted in the film as some sort of manipulative game between his ego and those swindled. This is exhibited in the scene where he rudely and confidently instructs his staff on how to “reel” in buyers with obscene, chauvinistic gestures. Overall, however, this movie succeeded in providing a compelling storyline as well as delivering a message as to the pointlessness of living a life solely based off materialistic desires.

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