feedingbrett’s review published on Letterboxd:
Review In A Nutshell:
The Wolf of Wall Street tells the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort. This is the type of film that I am able to easily predict what happens at the start and at the end of the film, so instead of looking for these surprises; what I look for in a film like this are aspects like character development, interesting dialogue, and messages or themes that would make this film stand out from the rest. The Wolf of Wall Street was able to bring two of those three things.
The film featured a fascinating protagonist that Scorsese handles beautifully. Belfort's personality and the endeavours he gets himself into are handled in such an indulgent way, stretching out the film for almost 3 hours. Scorsese wanted this film to show us as much as he can about the character in order for the audience to gain a strong understanding and makes his personal vices to truly feel like crutches in his life; having at least the first hour and a half showing us the excess of sex and drugs that he lived through and the joy he gained out of it. If he summarized this into an hour and 45 minute film then this would have been a film that I could easily shrug off and forget in the near future. None of this could have been as effective of course, if it wasn't for the brilliant, energetic and charismatic performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, I have seen sides of his acting range that I didn't even know existed, though I do want to point out that his role in this film isn't very different from the ones he has already played, containing attributes like wealthy and charming, but at least here he pushes his own boundaries unlike the others. I can't say this film is my favourite from his as that crown goes to his raw performance on Revolutionary Road.
One of the other reasons why this film remained entertaining was its dialogue. It features strong profanity that captured both the character and the profession he is in. There are some wonderful back and forth in this film, particularly between Belfort and his second wife or Donnie. Whenever he has a conversation between them, it always creates either a sense of fun or tension. I also enjoyed listening to the exchanges between DiCaprio and McConaughey, as I was able to learn so much about the world they are in and what is required in order to stay alive and maintain a sense of sanity.
My issue with the film is its thematic concerns or messages, as I feel like this has been something that I have seen multiple times in films of this nature. It speaks about the American dream where anybody can just find success through hard work and taking chances. Belfort took a chance on a small business, then moved out and made his own; from there he became wealthy and famous. Though I was a little disappointed with the film's recycled themes, it is definitely better made film than Scarface, through its flashy and glamorous direction and a much better written timeline of events. Coming into this, I did somewhat hope for this film to impress me the same way that Barry Lyndon did, a film that also uses the rise and fall storyline, but sadly it failed.
After just expressing my disappointments with the film, I hope you don't think that this is a bad film as it is far from that, but Scorsese has definitely delivered others that are better.