Just when I had given up on seeing another truly great film from 2013, leave it up to Martin Scorsese to knock us out with his latest film “The Wolf Of Wall Street”. This movie is a force of nature. Scorsese hurtles us effortlessly through three hours of greed, corruption, drug abuse, over the top debauchery and pure insanity. You have never seen people debase themselves like they do in this movie. I came out of it needing a shower.
The story is based on the real life exploits of Jordan Belfort, a stock broker who made millions basically selling middle class American’s junk stocks. He knowingly conned people out of their hard earned cash to feed his life style of greed and excess. He put together a group of low life drug dealers and a bizarre friend who lived in his building, to create a high power brokerage. Belfort is played here by Leonardo DiCaprio, who fearlessly jumps in to a role that depicts him abusing as many drugs as he could get his hands on, sleeping with prostitutes on each end of the scale and spending obscene amounts of money on lavish homes, boats and toys. Jonah Hill plays Donnie, Belfort’s right hand man. Donnie seems to live even worse than Belfort does, pounding down dangerous drugs by the hand full and fornicating with whoever is standing in front of him. How these guys survived these years with their lives and their private parts intact is a mystery.
The film chronicles Belfort’s rise and eventual fall at the hands of the FBI. It is amazing how arrogant Belfort became, eventually taunting the FBI and essentially getting their undivided attention on his own. At one point his lawyers managed to put together a deal that would of seen him pay a few million in fines, step down as CEO of his company, and live out his days with all his money and belongings. The fact that he was offered this kind of deal is a travesty but more shocking is that he pisses on the deal, which pushed the authorities to pursue actual jail time and take away everything. This made me realize just how messed up the justice system truly is.
Now this movie is getting a lot of flack because of the shocking amounts of drug use and sex that are on display. Do these people not realize that this is based on a true story? Is Scorsese supposed to just water down these events so that sensitive movie goers don’t get offended? I myself was offended at how these people lived their lives but I was not offended to see it depicted on screen. I applaud Scorsese for holding nothing back and fully depicting these people as the disgusting individuals that they are.
As for the cast, everyone here is just amazing. DiCaprio and Hill are fearless in their performances. There is a moment where they are so high on drugs that they cannot remove their faces from the floor. The drug in question is a rare and powerful qualuude. When Belfort receives a call from his lawyer to stay off the phones due to wire tapping, he finds himself driving home high as a kite to stop Donnie from talking about laundered cash over the phone. This scene results in some of the darkest comedy I have seen in a long time.
At three hours running time the film covers a lot of ground. Credit goes to Scorsese and his editors at cutting this together in a way that it feels like it flies right by. The feeling felt very similar to Scorsese’s own “Goodfellas”, which was another long movie that was so absorbing that it didn’t feel long enough. Here I wanted to see more of what happened to Belfort after getting out of prison. Did he learn anything? Has he truly changed?
Hopefully this movie is a big success. I have a feeling it won’t be as big as some of DiCaprio and Scorsese’s previous collaborations. There just isn’t a lot of interest in movies that are this dark. Judging on the mixed reactions it is getting so far I may be right. I for one think it is one of the years best films.