WRITTEN BY: Terence Winter
DIRECTED BY: Martin Scorsese
STARRING: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler
RATING: 5 stars
If you have read The Wolf of Wall Street, which I definitely recommend, then you already know just how extraordinary Jordan Belfort's life has been. Quite frankly, it is amazing that he is still alive with all the drugs, sex and lies in his excessive Wall Street life. The film has been adapted from Belfort's memoir chronicling his rise to become a wealthy stockbroker and the ultimate corruption that led to his downfall in the 1990s. The film is three hours long, but in the always reliable hands of director Martin Scorsese, there is never a dull moment.
Told with narration from Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), The Wolf of Wall Street begins in 1987 when a young and ambitious Belfort meets stockbroker Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) who teaches him how to make money from his rich clients. But when Black Monday hits, Belfort finds himself struggling. So, he creates his own business with his partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), adopting techniques he learnt to use on his rich clients on middle-income earners. Using his charisma, Belfort pockets millions of dollars from unsuspecting people and along the way he collects a white Ferrari, a 170-foot yacht, a mansion, a blonde bombshell for a wife, lots of cocaine, a raft of other drugs and many prostitutes. But, as Belfort's profile expands, so too does scrutiny from the FBI.
What does DiCaprio have to do to win an Oscar? He has arguably been the most consistent actor for the past two decades and his most recent run of films have all seen him challenge himself more than ever, culminating in this wild performance. One particular sequence shows how some drugs have restricted Belfort's physical movements, forcing him to crawl to his car and drive home. It is not only jaw-achingly hilarious, but also very well performed by a usually serious actor. The great thing about this character is that DiCpario is able to be funny and dramatic. He really deserves an Academy Award and I hope he finally gets one.
Jonah Hill is also very funny, but that is to be expected from the comedian. It is surprising he got an Oscar nomination for the role. Australian actress Margot Robbie nails the New Yorker accent and is a great addition as Belfort's wife, Naomi. Kyle Chandler is also solid as the suspicious FBI agent investigating Belfort. Small roles have been given to Jean Dujardin who helps Belfort hide millions in a Swiss bank account, and Matthew McConaughey who gives great life to Hanna as he beats his chest and hums during a very funny lunch scene. It is great to see director/actor Rob Reiner back into acting as Belfort's father and Jon Favreau also has a small role. Joanne Lumley is also good as Naomi's aunt Emma who helps Belfort with his money laundering scheme. Keep an eye out for the real Jordan Belfort in the final scene of the film too.
The Wolf of Wall Street explores the dark side of addiction and debauchery. Some may argue the film is an advertisement for cocaine and corruption, or that it glorifies Belfort's crimes. But, like a train wreck you cannot take your eyes off, I think The Wolf of Wall Street is more of a cautionary tale about the danger of too much greed and power.