The Wolf of Wall Street undoubtedly is one of Leo’s best performances and makes it seem that Oscar may finally be in his grasp.
Review (with Spoilers)
When Martin Scorsese puts his name on a film, you know that quality is to be expected. Then, with his most recent muse Leonardo DiCaprio being in the lead role, it is almost impossible to imagine them working together leading to something horrible. After all, they are like a more refined, and dependable, version of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.
Characters & Story
As for the film, the story focuses on one Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) who is this highly charismatic man whose ability to inspire is comparable to that of the great villains of history or literature. However, like many villains, things didn’t start off with him going down the wrong path. When we first meet Jordan, he may not be a saint, but his conscious is clean. He has a wife Teresa (played by Cristin Milioti), and simply wants to live a life where monetary worries are something which are foreign and something simply seen on the news. So, with his first entry level job he meets a man named Mark Hanna (played by Matthew McConaughey) who not only mentors him but is the figure which begins to change Jordan from the man Teresa fell in love with, to a character who you can’t take your eyes off of.
Unfortunately for Jordan though, after finally passing his series 7 exam, to be an official stockbroker, Black Monday happens. With this event, Jordan is out of a job and Mark is out of his life. However, with Mark introducing him to the taste of the life he always wanted, and Jordan having that old school American, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, mentality, he decides to not let this setback kill his vision of the new American dream: getting rich. So, he first starts out doing penny stocks and then begins building an empire with his workers being the downtrodden of the world, making him rise to a level where he almost seems like Hitler without an army or anti-Semitic views. Alongside him is a man who helps see his dreams come true, and push them to ruin: Donnie Azoff (played by Jonah Hill). Making for an overall adventure in which we see the usual dramatic rise and disastrous fall of a figure who may have gotten beaten, but seemingly gets the last laugh and lives to fight another day.
First and foremost, there is an obligatory need to praise Leonardo DiCaprio for he will keep you entertained for the full three hours of the film. Through breaking the 4th wall, and all different types of debauchery which usually is only seen on HBO or Showtime shows, we are given a 3D character. One who has all the charm needed to trick people out of money, but at the same time seems like the life he lives and the person he is at heart are continually conflicting with each other. I say that since, despite the yacht, massive ego, and the ability to make a million in a day, there is still this sort of vulnerability, if only slightly. Take note of whenever he is looking at a woman as more than a vagina to stick his dick in, he becomes insecure in almost an inexperienced teen way, making it seem like testosterone is able to create a façade for when it is time to show off, but during intimate moments, the mask comes off and all that is left is a man with money and ambitions, but someone who also desires someone stable to share all of his profit with too.
But it isn’t just DiCaprio who gives you an excellent performance. Hill, based off his filmography, seems almost destined to play Azoff, and though he may not go head to head with DiCaprio in terms of prominence, it is hard to deny that as a supporting member, he doesn’t do a hell of a job. Also, I quite admired the use of soul/ blues music throughout the film signaling the shift of Belfort’s rise, and perhaps the best thing about the film is that while it isn’t rolling on the floor funny, it does keep you smiling and entertained all throughout.
Leading to perhaps the sole criticism I have for this movie: The Ending. Our journey with Belfort creates the type of movie you can foresee watching more than once, just because of all the madness that goes on; however, the ending just feels so anti-climactic after everything that is done. You watch the man throw midgets, money launder, have sex with tons of woman, take as much drugs as possible without having an overdose, and though I realize Belfort, the actual Jordan Belfort, is alive so a definitive ending isn’t possible, I just felt like after skyrocketing and maintaining that altitude, the ending feels like a plane nose-diving and just barely making it onto the runway safe.
Overall: Must See
I personally am not a huge Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but it is undeniable that his work with Martin Scorsese took him from Jack in Titanic to a mega star. Whatever it is, Scorsese brings out the best out of DiCaprio the same way he did with Robert De Niro for decades. And with that said, this movie is something not only worth seeing in theaters, but eventually getting on DVD. For while it is 3 hours long, like Blue is the Warmest Color, it uses said 3 hours to give you a compelling story which rarely, if ever, falters. I would even dare say, even amongst Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Leonardo DiCaprio may finally get an Oscar.