I'm a big fan of both Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter. Although, it was actually the catchy trailers that initially made me excited to see The Wolf of Wall Street. Finding out that Scorsese and Winter were heading the project, only pushed it to the top of my must-see films for 2013.
The Wolf of Wall Street is based on Jordan Belfort's autobiography detailing his rise to wealth and fame as a stockbroker on Wall Street during the 80's. Belfort's quick rise to the top and shady business practices caught the attention of the Federal Government and Belfort had to act quickly to prevent his self-made empire from collapsing.
This was easily one of my favorite films of 2013. The Wolf of Wall Street runs about three hours and never fails to remain engaging. It's a roller coaster ride. The film is outrageous, hilarious and often grotesque. In many ways, the film reminded me of another story of 80's excess, Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Belfort certainly has more humanity than Patrick Bateman, but there is a similarity in the way that both characters value money, power and image. The humor and style are similar in both films.
I loved Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort. It seems that DiCaprio is frequently cast as rich and eccentric. Fine by me, he plays those parts well. However, Belfort is not a pretty role. Drug addicted, often desperate Belfort is a mess and DiCaprio plays him warts and all. All of the wealth and glamor that comes to the characters in the film, comes with a price and the dark side is always a cloud that hovers over them. DiCaprio manages to make you care for Belfort, even though he is often despicable.
DiCaprio drives the film, but there are many notable performances from the supporting cast. Jonah Hill is great as Belfort's clueless business partner. Hill delivers many of the films very funny one-liners. Margot Robbie gives a gut-wrenching performance as Belfort's wife and although the role is small, Matthew McConaughey has a very memorable scene.
What really works is the narrative of the film, with Belfort addressing the audience directly. It immediately grabbed my attention and it felt like I was being let in to Belfort's inner-circle. It's very clever, because Belfort is all about making the sale and manipulating the buyer. This direct narrative gives Belfort a chance to sell his story and plead his case directly to the audience. Brilliant.
The Wolf of Wall Street isn't going to be for everyone. It's often crude and is rated "R" for basically every reason possible. It also broke the record for number of swear words in a film. 506. Some of the scenes, although funny, are nowhere close to being P.C.. There is plenty of shock value.
That said, if you think that this film seems up your alley, don't miss it. I'm not only glad that I saw it in theaters, but it met the rare quality of a movie that I will make sure to buy. I loved it!