The Wolf of Wall Street – 2013
This was a really intense movie! My goodness! From beginning to end, this movie was an overload to the senses. The main character, Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a stock broker who starts his own firm called Stratton Oakmont. The film is about the extreme excesses in which Jordan wallows, such as drugs and hookers, and the grossly illegal practices which eventually lead to his downfall and incarceration by the FBI.
He didn’t just play with these vices. He reveled in them. He wantonly ingested any kind of drug he could get his hands on, and his obscene wealth allowed him to obtain anything he wanted. His favorite drugs of choice were Quaaludes and cocaine, both of which he used on a daily basis. He routinely had wild parties and orgies with his employees, paying for the scores of prostitutes with company funds.
But lets back up for a moment. Jordan started off as an eager young man who got a job as a respectable Wall Street stock broker. But his first mentor was Mark Hannah, played by Matthew McConaughey, the man who, on his first day, quickly introduced him to cocaine. Unfortunately, the very next day was the infamous Black Monday, and Jordan’s career stalled. He got a job at a small time exchange firm that dealt in penny stocks, but with the use of a ridiculously aggressive sales pitch, he took the opportunity to make a small fortune.
His wealth attracted his future business partner and friend was Donnie Azoff, played by Jonah Hill. Donnie was just as avaricious as Jordan, and together the two opened Stratton Oakmont, and the money started flowing in, bringing with it all the drugs and sex the two men could ever want. As their business grew, Jordan dropped his homely wife in favor of a sexy younger woman named Naomi Lapaglia, played by Margot Robbie. He gave her everything she could ever want, though he was still hooking up with every whore he could buy.
The film was directed by Martin Scorsese, and like all of his movies, nothing was done small. There were explicit sex scenes, naked women, naked men, wild parties, over-the-top orgies, money, drugs of all kinds, dangerous trips, fantastically opulent sets and filming locations, expensive cars, rich and glamorous people, and every kind of excess you can imagine. And then there was the language. This movie had more swear words per square inch than any other movie. Literally. In fact, the “F” word and its numerous variations, were used between 506 and 569 times, making it the film with the most uses of the word in a mainstream, non-documentary film.
But I honestly don’t think it was gratuitous, though it might easily appear to be. Scorsese was trying to paint a picture, and he did a fantastic job. If anything had been tamer, the portrait of Jordan Belfort would not have been as complete or as vibrant. All the excess had a pitch that kept growing in intensity so that by the end of the movie I was on sensory overload. I’ve never tried cocaine, but I almost felt as if I had, and it was both exciting and terrifying. And the scene where Jordan and Donnie nearly overdose on Quaaludes was both hilarious and frightening.
An important character in the film was FBI agent Patrick Denham, played by Kyle Chandler. He is a calm and soft-spoken man who is on a mission to bring Jordan down, almost like the tortoise who is determined to beat the hare. And in the end, he does. He eventually gets the evidence he needs to arrest Jordan. But instead of simply sending him to prison, he cuts a deal with him. He convinces Jordan to wear a wire and incriminate his coworkers, especially his partner, Donnie, in exchange for leniency. Though Jordan tries to warn Donnie about the wire, he gets caught when Donnie betrays him by telling the FBI about the warning.
Eventually, Naomi takes their children and leaves him, Jordan loses all his vast wealth, and has to spend three years in a federal prison. In a quick epilogue, we are shown how prison makes Jordan a different person and he spends the rest of his life conducting seminars on sales techniques. I have to say that I have developed a wonderful respect for DiCaprio as an actor. He clearly puts his heart and soul into every performance, and it shows. He also has a knack for reinventing himself in every film, proving that he knows how to actually act and not just play himself or the same character in every movie. He is incredibly talented and deserves every bit of recognition he earns. Well done Leonardo!
But this movie also had a pretty impressive list of well-known actors playing supporting roles like Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, and Joanna Lumley, not to mention a tiny cameo by the real Jordan Belfort. It was an incredible movie, but not one for the fainthearted. Anyone who is easily offended by nudity, sex, or drug use should avoid watching this movie. But if you have a sufficiently thick skin, you will really enjoy The Wolf of Wall Street.