Debbie’s review published on Letterboxd:
What a fucking ride. (I will continue swearing in this review... because fuck it. The film has de-sensitised this word forever). The Wolf of Wall Street is 3 hours long, but it is explicitly vulgar, hilarious and confronting. Martin Scorsese presents us with an excellent satirical commentary on excess and debauchery, examining the cycle of greed through a darkly funny perspective.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a firecracker. It is an explosion of crazy partying, drugs, sex - and it never fails to hide or shy away from any of it; Scorsese paints a picture of full excess. Introducing the story of Jordan Belfort, a man who rises from a working class family into a money-laundering scoundrel working in the pits of Wall Street - Terrence Winter's script (based on the non-fiction novel of Belfort) does wonders in depicting this man and his activities, as both entertaining, yet also condemning and disturbing.
The cast are all in impeccable form throughout this film. Leonardo DiCaprio pulls off one of his best performances here, he is allowed to go wild and show off what he can really do best. Belfort is explosive, overly-confident and all-round disgusting, but DiCaprio transforms him into an engaging and entertaining host, narrating the film with such a captivating tone that you can't help but be drawn into his ventures. Jonah Hill and newcomer Margot Robbie (Australia pride y'all) are also fantastic, rousing up absorbing sequences - and similarly assist the spiraling direction this film heads towards. Matthew McConaughey also features for around 10 minutes, and boy - are those 10 minutes memorable. It had the whole cinema cracking up.
But then again, so did much of the film. Why I found it so hard to gather my thoughts in a review at the conclusion of the film was due to the severe impact I felt Scorsese did to push his message across. It is a clear condemnation of the actions of Belfort - but more widely, the people running the great country of America. Instead of shoving the messages down your throat by showing the downfall of a character, Winter allows for the anti-hero of Belfort to narrate the film. He explains why he loves what he does, why indeed he does it in the first place - and hell... the audience consumes it right in. Why the film entirely shook me is how Scorsese leaves the audience entirely culpable in their participation of the hilariously disturbing mess of Belfort and his buddies. You could just feel the laughs start to die down towards the third act of the film - and cue.. the point where I started to love the film.
Thoroughly entertained for much of the commencement of the film, the repetition of the sex, drugs becomes a slow adrenaline energy burn ready to explode - and although the cinema audience was continuously captivated, I could start feeling my cheeks hurting towards the middle of the running time. I'm unsure as to whether its because I started finding it so 'not funny' anymore, because it started to come off as discomfiting -- but as I stated above.. once it reaches the third act... it really picks up. The satirical commentary starts to shine through, and similarly makes us examine humanity's desire for greed and the dangers of superficiality and excess. The ironic turnout of Belfort's career becomes a tool that Scorsese uses to highlight the cyclical journey of glorified excess and the apparent lack of consequences that it implores on society.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a film I cannot get out of my head, nor is it a film that is easily absorbed. It is dirty, hysterical, insane and ultimately, fucking damn entertaining. It slots in at the top of the 2013 year, and I can only think about how my love for this film will escalate the more I watch it. Bring it on.