When it comes to films based on a real life person, I tend to not be that interested in them but when a master filmmaker like Martin Scorsese decided to make one, I won’t miss it for the world. As with most films based on real events, not everything you see on the screen are true but then this movie was based on a book written by a real life stockbroker Jordan Belfort, I have to believe that some if not all of the things happened on the screen were true. I mean I’ve worked at a financial institution a few years ago and heard stories of how the big wig executives partied and I can’t help but laugh when I saw this movie.
Just like some of Scorsese’s films, the main character Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) narrates the story throughout and even talked directly to the audience once in a while. It starts out with flashback of how he got started in wall street, he worked at some brokerage film in NYC, there he met his mentor Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who taught him the trick of the trade. After the stock market crash in 1987, Belfort loss his job but later found work at a small brokerage firm with a bunch of sales guys who have no idea how sell stocks. With his experience working at a big firm, Belfort was able to sell stocks of basically non-existent companies to bunch of regular schmucks. Later Belfort decided he wanted to start his own firm and met his future business partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) at a local dinner. They rented a garage to set up as an office and recruited their friends to work for them. The film basically chronicle the rise and fall of Belfort and his gang and since it’s a 3 hours long, I won’t go into any plot details for this review.
This is the fifth collaboration between DiCaprio and Scorsese and I think this one might be DiCaprio’s best performance ever. He commands the screen every time you see him and the things did in this movie, I’m not sure many actors can pull off. There’s a scene in which he was so drugged out of his mind and he had to crawl to get to his car was probably the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in a while and it’s kind of sad too because I’ve seen people behaved like that in real life. Jonah Hill was pretty good as the second lead, although there were a couple of times where I thought he really “acted” instead of playing the role, hope that made sense. Even though McConaughey only appeared in the movie for just a few minutes, he stole the scene and I kind of wish to see more of his character. Newcomer Aussie actress Margot Robbie did a decent job as Belfort’s trophy wife, I’ve never seen her in anything before this movie, but she might have a good career Hollywood since she’s also drop dead gorgeous. I also have to give a shout out to Rob Reiner who plays Belfort’s father, I haven’t seen him on the screen in a while and glad to see him working again in front of the camera.
To me though the person who truly deserves the credit is Scorsese, I don’t think this film would have worked as well as it did had other director made it. Seems to be he’s back in his old form again after some so so films the last few years. Even though I loved The Departed, I just felt it wasn’t a “Scorsese Picture” since it’s remake. Here he incorporated all of the skills that have made him famous and respected in the industry, from the fast editing to great cinematography, I have no complaint about his direction. He was able to show how despicable these people were and he pulled no punches showing us their debauchery behaviors and how they cheat their way into “success.” Some might say it’s too much but that’s the point of the movie, these greedy people will do anything to get rich and didn’t care who they hurt as long as they get what they wanted. Of course this being a Scorsese film, there has to be scene where some guy gets the crap beat out of him and don’t worry, there’s a scene in this film where some unfortunate guy got the crap kicked out of him. I was expecting to see Joe Pesci show up as a cameo and play the guy who beats up this person. I don’t mean to sound exaggerated but I think this film might be on the same level as Goodfellas or Taxi Driver. Now I do think the film could’ve use some trimming, at 3 hours it’s a bit long and I thought some scenes could’ve been shorten. But I was so involved in the story, it didn’t feel like 3 hours to me.
Of all the films I saw in 2013, this one’s probably my favorite. It’s great seeing a true Scorsese’s picture again and along with great performances, this one is highly recommended. Just a warning though, this film is for adults only, please don’t bring young kids to see it. If you get easily offended by foul language, the F-words were mentioned many times, you might want to stay away from it. Also, there were many scenes of sex acts and drug use throughout most of the film, again if you’re easily offended by these kind of scenes, you won’t enjoy the film.
I think if you’re a fan of either DiCaprio or Scorsese or both, you’ll enjoy this film. It’s a kind of tragic story of how greed can make people so evil and the last shot of the film was a proof that yes many of us will do anything to get rich and have a better life. That’s the American dream right?
What do you think of The Wolf of Wall Street and Scorsese + DiCaprio collaboration?