Thomas Clarke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Teaming up together for the fifth time, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio have perhaps produced their best collaboration yet. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ could easily been seen as a mess of a movie - high on drug use, sexual content and profanities its a wonder it succeeds at all. However, under the excellent guidance of the experienced director, the film blossoms into something rather special. Mature and over-the-top throughout, this film is rather nostalgic upon reflection - having various moments that mirror back to one of his previous film productions, ’The Goodfellas’. This statement occurs most when looking into both films tone and style (regardless of the different subject matters that they hold). Smartly written, brilliantly edited and with the freedom of improvisation with the regards to the acting on show, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ moves at a brisk pace, showcasing the remarkable life of Jordan Belfort - an American stockbroker who conned his way to millions of pounds and a criminal record.
In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes a stockbroker role within Wall Street. His boss Mark Hanna (an underused Matthew McConaughey) advices him on how to manage the immense pressure the job will bring - drug use and a lifestyle of sex and parties. However, not far into his new career the stock market crashes and the firm fails. Desperate to return to the career he adores, Jordan takes up a penny broker role and realises the potential within this style of money management. With the higher commission rates a factor influencing his decision, the ambitious business man decides to start a firm of his own with creative partner Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). Becoming a person of his own eccentric lifestyle, Jordan begins to become susceptible to the substance abuse and sexual activities in which he takes apart. Relaying this lifestyle into his firm - in the form of fraudulent crime so as to bring in higher level wealth and oddly wild office work - Jordan Belfort soon becomes a target of the FBI, who investigate him and his wife as well as his unorthodox methods he utilises.
When seen as individual sequences, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ struggles to feel coherent. However, seen as an entire product the film manages to convey an intriguing account of greed and ambition - with perhaps one of the most engrossing lead character to every inhabit film. Much like the movie, the flaws of this character - when seen individually - could lead to some sort of dislike. When they are blended as one and performed to perfection by an outstanding DiCaprio, the character changes into someone believable, attachable and most importantly likeable. It is with these two factors that ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ manages to become one of the best unorthodox anti-hero lead movies to garner viewer attention and deserved acclaim.
With an extremely mature tone throughout ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is not to everyones taste. With grotesque nudity, over 500 profanities and high level drug use, this film could be seen as overly controversial for unneeded purposes. Where this is true in some regards, the sheer style of the film accounts for the inclusion of all this into 9its content. Managing to relay these factors to the audience in a manner which doesn't over glamourise - away from the narrative purpose - the film does not feel coarse or unrefined in regards the larger narrative it recalls.
Leonardo DiCaprio is outstanding in his performance within this movie. Carrying the films lengthy plot - at almost three hours - the role he inhabits is perhaps his best character to date. Unbalanced, ambitious and over-the-top, the characteristics he portrays is done so in a manner which does not detract audience likability from the flaws found within groundwork that makes up the character study . Scorsese latest muse, DiCaprio seems to have built a trusted working relationship with the talent film auteur. In a year of distinguished depiction's in filmic roles, DiCaprio has perhaps saved his best to last - with a relentless tour-de-force performance that not only grabs audience attachment but demands it is kept throughout.
Supporting this films lead actor are, amongst others, two comedy performers who are currently performing well above the standard that could have been seen with regards to their earliest work. Jonah Hill is classy yet surprising within the role he performs. Outrageously showcasing the unbalance that occurs within Donnie, his performance is heightened by the level of crudeness he holds - with these parts of the film being where he most blossoms. Swallowing goldfish, and masturbating during a drug enhanced house party, his Donnie is perhaps the most manic of all characters that feature. Playing it straight, and allowing the actions to carry the comedic element of the film, Jonah Hill brings a fresh approach to every scene in which he appears. Undoubtably underused with his role within the film, Matthew McConaughey is still classy with regards to his presence within the narrative points that he features.
With ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ being only her second feature film - with a major world wide release - the braveness of Margot Robbie within her performance is felt heavily throughout the narrative. Unafraid of doing something that enhances the film, her role of Naomi is perhaps the centre point from which all manner of mental sequences take place. Contrasting to the male leads in regards to her role development, her character is seductive, smart and simple with the main purpose being titilation - in the form of nudity and temptation - whilst also showing the sort of company that wealth can bring. Always seemingly out of Jordan’s league, the role announces the messed up world in which he inhabits, showing personal battles that the young business man faced. Funny and strong throughout, Margot Robbie manages to hold her own in a heavily testosterone filled cast.
With the likes of Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin and Joanna Lumley filling supporting roles, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ carries an impeccably high quality array of outstanding actors.
Martin Scorsese has once again enhanced his credit as one of the most influential film directors working within the industry today. Allowing creative decisions - such as freedom of enhancing scenes with improvisation - around the structure of his production, his choices made within this film make it reach an entirely different level of quality. Relaying the messed up world in which the characters all inhabit, through the use of double shooting sequences, from both the true perspective and that of the individual character, the film is easily understandable and darkly comedic in places. Using his cast to carry the movie, and with the remarkable true story being the basis of the narrative, his direction not only heightens the finished article throughout but also brings it into a working production. Perhaps his best film ever, the director has once again succeeded in bringing a typically un-Hollywood movie to the forefront of the industry.
Funny and remarkably crude, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is an outstanding showcase of the darker sides to human nature. Over-the-top and very mature, the movie could detract audience attention from the content and style in which it is presented. However, much like the lead characters style of business, the film is unorthodox in its content, but receives great success in doing so. A+