Luke Thorne’s review published on Letterboxd:
Martin Scorsese directs this Oscar-nominated, fact-based, unsettling black comedy drama, in which Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who, in the 1980s and 90s, fraudulently makes millions of dollars and lives in hedonistic excess - until the FBI takes notice.
This film is adapted from Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name, which was published in September 2007 and he carried on this with his second book called ‘Catching the Wolf of Wall Street’ two years later.
Not only this, but this movie is also the fifth collaboration between star Leonardo DiCaprio and director Martin Scorsese, following Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed and Shutter Island. DiCaprio also teams up with the writer Terence Winter for the second time following Broadwalk Empire (2010-14).
When this movie was released, it caused a huge amount of controversy for its ethically unclear representation of events, along with its very, very strong use of profanity, explicit sexual content, hard drug use and the way animals were treated.
With this description, it’s really unfortunate because The Wolf of Wall Street is one uncomfortable and unsettling film to view – for a number of reasons.
In 1987, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes an entry-level occupation at a Wall Street broker company. In the early beginning of the new decade, while still in his 20s, Jordan founds his own business, Stratton Oakmont. Together with his right-hand understudy Donnie (Jonah Hill) and a happy band of dealers, Jordan makes a large profit by deceiving rich stockholders out of millions of dollars.
However, while Jordan and his associates participate in a pleasure-seeking beverage of sex, drugs and thrills, the SEC and the FBI know what he has been up to and are gaining in on his realm of surplus.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives a respectable performance in his role as Jordan Belfort, the man who manages to get very rich by what he does to the stockbrokers, but the SEC and FBI are not going to let him get away with it.
Although this is not DiCaprio’s best performance of his career, it isn’t his worst. However, I do consider it to be the weakest performance he has done in his collaborations with the director.
Elsewhere, Jonah Hill is OK as Donnie Azoff, Jordan’s assistant who doesn’t really offer much support on occasions in trying to help Jordan succeed in what he aims to do, while Margot Robbie plays the role of Naomi Lapaglia, Jordan’s wife. Kyle Chandler is respectable in his role as Patrick Denham, the FBI agent who tries hard to stop Jordan from carrying with his activities.
Matthew McConaughey is Mark Hanna, the man who employs Jordan to the business company. McConaughey though will be more remembered for his excellent performance in Dallas Buyers Club, which won him an Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Also, look out for Rob Reiner as Max Belfort, Jordan’s father; Jon Favreau as Manny Riskin; Joanna Lumley as Aunt Emma and Jean Dujardin as Jean-Jacques Saurel. Dujardin will here be definitely be more remembered for his major multi-award-winning role in The Artist.
The direction from Scorsese is OK but it should have been better, such as showing more facial expressions to a stronger effect, as well as having more of a tense atmosphere happening – this does not occur much.
The script is written to an OK standard by Terence Winter as the script is weak in places and there are scenes that did not need to be in the final edit, so the three-hour duration should definitely have been reduced.
Also, I also believe in the script there is far too much profanity in the film. This film did hold the record for “the feature film for having the most profanity”, but has since been overtaken by the Canadian comedy feature Swearnet: The Movie.
At the UK premiere of The Wolf of Wall Street in January 2014, director Martin Scorsese said to reporters that he “does not mean to offend audiences with the amount of swearing in his films”. But here though, I do believe he is doing it on purpose – deliberately.
The camera stands out best in terms of the technical aspects, because it makes some good use of the locations.
There are two particular scenes that I found really uncomfortable with this film and both of them involve Jonah Hill – one of them involves a goldfish, the other involves Donnie making it very clear that he really, really does not care about the United States of America (this scene in particular is very offensive).
The movie managed to win 5 Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter).
At the British Academy Film Awards, they nominated the film for Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Adapted Screenplay (Terence Winter) and Best Editing (Thelma Schnoonmaker, Scorsese’s regular film editor).
At the Golden Globes, Leonardo DiCaprio won the award for Best Actor – Musical or Comedy, while the Hollywood Foreign Press also nominated the film for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.
It may not surprise you to find out that I strongly disagree with all 11 of these major award nominations.
Overall, despite the good performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, along with the OK direction, weak script, slow pace and very long duration, The Wolf of Wall Street is one very long, very offensive, uncomfortable and unsettling film about Jordan Belfort. This is one film you don’t learn a lot about, which is a disappointment