The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★★½

Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a sprawling, screaming circus of audacity. It is an outrageous and unhinged epic of appetites. It is also one of the best written, best acted, and most embarrassingly entertaining films of 2013.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" follows pulled-up-by-his-bootstraps stockbroker Jordan Belfort and his rise to financial fame, then infamy. It is a harrowing, tongue-in-cheek journey filled with depravity, debauchery, and all manner excess. The narrative heightens its subjects through the roof, and, though the audience is not to take those subjects seriously, the ride is mesmerizing. The script's rapid-fire, take-no-prisoners dialogue punctuates the story, adding energy to an already, delightfully over-caffeinated tale.

Scorsese has assembled a fantastic cast. Led by Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, the cast turns in excellent, energetic performances. DiCaprio continues his decade-long winning streak with Belfort. He steps away from his leading man status and delivers a true character. Shades of James Cagney may color his raving, ambitious, addicted lunatic, but Belfort is a character all DiCaprio's own.

Scorsese's camera in uncharacteristically quiet as it captures the blanched environs of the late 1980s and early '90s. Direction, editing, production design, and music are all top notch and tone-appropriate. Scorsese, as expected, has assembled an unflinchingly hilarious satire of greed that could stand with the auteur's darker material. There is a rambling scope and scale to "The Wolf of Wall Street," but Scorsese is able to keep this film about a lack of control under control.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" is an exhausting, entertaining, and excellently built experience. Those seeking something genuine and real may need look elsewhere, as the film contains only dashes of real heart and honesty. That, however, is not part of the agenda of "The Wolf of Wall Street," and its agenda is clearly delivered. It is the story of lustful, hungry, unapologetic, and unheroic hero whose exploits are augmented to the highest of decibels.

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