The Wolf of Wall Street (2014): Film Review

The most important tip I can give to anybody wanting to see The Wolf of Wall street is this: don’t see it with your parents. Trust me, It’s not that kind of film.

The film is based of the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, a tenacious and crooked stock broker who experiences incredible highs and eventual lows on Wall Street. Martin Scorsese really does throw the kitchen sink at his latest project with ferocious amounts of sex, relentless amounts of swearing and “enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month.”

In fact there is so much swearing that The Wolf of Wall Street has actually broken the “F-Bomb” record spitting out the word 506 times, smashing the record previously set by ‘Summer of Sam’ at 435. Think of the film as Goodfellas except based on Wall Street then you begin to understand the kind of movie that it is.

The story focuses on Belfort’s humble and naive beginnings working on wall street to his eventual rise as a multi-millionaire stock swindling master, all while the FBI is close on his tail along the way.

I went into the cinema expecting a dark and twisted morality tale of how power and money corrupts a man. However the film is for the most part not a serious drama and is, more often than not, a black comedy and a satire. And it succeeds, it’s hilarious from start to finish.

The sheer velocity of excess in the film gives the impression that it is essentially meant to be a thinly veiled parody of the stock market game. Crucially though despite this ridicule it never becomes totally ridiculous and is always engaging and watchable.

Leonardo DiCaprio is as you would expect unimpeachable. He turns in a performance as good as any I’ve ever seen him give, one more than worthy of that elusive Oscar. The surprise package in this film however is Jonah Hill. Given his track record of fairly modest comedy films I don’t think I was the only one surprised to hear that he was starring in Martin Scorseses latest epic. But he more than delivers. He plays Donnie Azoff, an equally as excessive and morally bankrupt stock broker sporting weird glossy white teeth who indulges himself with copious amounts of drugs and prostitutes.

Despite the amounts of excess in the movie it never once feels like too much or over the top, partly because of the comedic relief and the sheer amount of stuff happening.

The film throws so much in your direction with fast moving action, blunt dialogue and a swear word filling every other word that its hard to actually catch your breath and consider whether or not the film is still rooted in reality.

The film does feel quite superficial at times and I did struggle to find the moral of the story if there is indeed one at all. However as you sit watching the movie you forget all about those details and simply absorb the film, which at the end of the day is a fast & furious barrel of fun and laughter.

Perhaps the message here is all too obviously about the reality of the stock market itself and how stock markets are swindled daily and the perpetrators sadly go unpunished.

I don’t think the film is trying to be a scathing indictment of Wall street simply because none of the characters show any remorse for their morally repugnant actions which is fine.

It’s nice to have a movie that isn’t trying to shift my attention to a serious issue and have me sit nodding along at how badly society has failed on a particular subject.

The Wolf of Wall Street is just three hours of entertaining thrills. No more, no less.

As with all Scorsese movies, the music is near perfect focusing on the period it it set with lots of 80’s and 90’s hits giving the film a very yuppie feel.

Much has been made also of the films length. At three hours long, the film really did need to justify this length with the quality of the storyline.

Sadly though I don’t think it did, I have to remain stubborn and say that is is simply far too long and that many scenes could be simply cut out all together without interrupting the plot and direction of the film. Don’t let the length put you off an otherwise rip roaringly fun black comedy with stellar performances from all it’s cast by a director who knows what he’s doing.


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