The Martin Scorcessee directed The Wolf of Wall Street is inspired by the fascinating true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), the Manhattan stock broker who founded Stratford-Oakmont and made a fortune trading penny stocks. As the company becomes more and more successful, even branching out into IPO’s, his personal fortune grows and the firm quickly becomes known for some of the most excessive behavior on Wall Street. This inevitably catches the eye of the feds who begin an investigation into the widely rumored illegal tactics. The excesses of the firm are easily outmatched by the personal excesses of Belfort and his cohorts, mainly his partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and include lots of sex, drugs, and money laundering.
The behavior depicted in The Wolf of Wall Street is sometimes so excessive it can be hard to believe, and I’m sure there is a degree of creative license, but it makes for a very funny comedy. Dicaprio is perfect as the calculating and charismatic Belfort, whose exceptional talents include the ability to inspire people to greatness, primarily by throwing all moral and ethical standards out the window, but is also a drug addict who will do just about any drug but has a fondness for Quaaludes. Since the story focuses on his rise from the very bottom of the ladder to the very heights of success, you actually have a tendency to sympathize with Belfort, and see him as a successful, self-made businessman who learned how to capitalize on an opportunity few were interested in. But the reality is there is another side of the coin that isn’t seen in the film, mainly the many victims along the way who no doubt lost substantial amounts of money due to the illegal trading tactics, so you can’t allow yourself to sympathize too much. Ultimately, it is their own arrogance that brings them down and the feds move in to close the whole operation down, leaving him personally and professionally destroyed.
The antics of Belfort and his rag-tag team of cohorts are hilarious, and the entire cast of the film is brilliant, not just Dicaprio. Jonah Hill as his original partner Donnie is fantastic, and Matthew McConaughey is absolutely brilliant in his brief appearance as Belfort’s first boss, Mark, who he works for just before the stock crash of 1987 when he loses his job. Mark is unashamed and unapologetic in his greed and blatant excess, and no doubt a big influence on Belfort. But McConaughey is mesmerizing in this brief and very memorable role. Another notable performance is Australian actress Margot Robbie and Belfort’s second wife Naomi.
So if you are willing to put all ethical and moral standards aside for a moment, The Wolf of Wall Street is a wonderful, guilty pleasure with an amazing cast. Entertaining and very funny, it will no doubt be an awards season favorite.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.