Dragonknight’s review published on Letterboxd:
”I am not gonna die sober!”
There is an undeniable similarity between the instantaneous joy, energy and euphoria that we have while watching The Wolf of Wall Street and how Jordan Belfort lives his life, this is a movie where the director skillfully mixes form and content to create an experience which is as hyper and as instantly ecstatic as the life of its flashy and opportunistic characters. And the amazing thing is that this intricate look at modern morals has been made by a 72 year old visionary artist whose work has the energy and dynamism of the debut film of a young and motivated director. While this fact proves the brilliancy of Martin Scorsese but at the same time it is also a bit disappointing for us viewers: Where do think we will be and what do you think we will do when we are 72?!
The Wolf of Wall Street doesn't let you think about anything else, it tells the story of greed, lust and pride of self-indulgent characters who know no limits and go around a circle of debauchery and dishonesty without feeling regretful for even a fraction of second. Scorsese and his genius writer, Terence Winter, accurately draw a detailed and wild portrait of the life of Jordan Belfort and his friends and build a universe which looks glorious at first but as we see more of that certain type of life and that “unique” world we start to realize that it actually is a frightening place where the virtuous values of the good old days have been replaced by only one principle: All things are lawful.
One of the basic questions that The Wolf of Wall Street deals with is the question of freedom. Are we human beings free to do anything we like? In other words is there anything that limits our actions? Then what is it? What makes us forget that essential value and and what happens if we abandon it? Jordan and his group of friends are people who don’t believe in anything expect their own fortunes and desires, people who are proudly ignoring the unwritten laws established over centuries by countless number of societies which we call morality now. And here one of the precipitating factors that can lead to the rejection of such laws is capitalism which by rewarding greed and dishonesty encourages people to gradually abandon those aforementioned laws only in order to gain more money which ultimately enables them to do anything they like and become totally “free” individuals.
But of course first of all Scorsese tries to smoothly narrate his story and create his three-dimensional characters which means The Wolf of Wall Street is an enjoyable movie that never throws its messages at the viewer’s face, on the surface it is an amazingly made movie filled with exuberance and excitement which eventually makes it more easier for us to engage in its universe and connect with its themes. While this approach looks to be a fundamental aspect of film-making but we all know that many directors miss the point and instead of focusing on their narration and their characters fill their movies with boring and numerous “ethical” and “philosophical” messages to enlighten us poor souls. Only a true master can achieve such balance between story-telling, entertainment and thematic deepness. And what we have here is the work of a true master.
Terence Winter writes funny, sharp and senseless yet at the same time incredibly to the point lines which are fascinating to hear and perfectly portray that inner corruption and cheapness of characters, his screenplay is without a doubt one of movie’s biggest strengths. But the dialogues wouldn't have sounded powerful the performances weren't equally wonderful. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of the best performances of his career and portrays that hedonistic nature of Jordan Belfort’s character with great commitment, you can see a lustful, opportunistic and impulsive man who only wants to have more fun. Jonah Hill portrays a wilder version of Jordan which at times becomes even crazier than the central character himself and Matthew McConaughey has perhaps the most influential role in the film as the spiritual father of Jordan “Wolfie” Belfort’s debauched movement and as always he is amazing to watch.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a well-paced, well-written and well-made movie which with its edgy humor, frenzied nature and profound and multi-layered universe manages to charm, shock and entertain us all at the same time. Another great work from Martin Scorsese.