The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★★½

"Sell me this pen."

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a stockbroker.

The Wolf of Wall Street does not begin with that line, but it might as well. From his simple beginnings as a trader to those calamitous encounters with the FBI, the character arc of millionaire fraudster Jordan Belfort (who actually cameos in the film) bears more than a few similarities to Henry Hill's own infamous rise and fall in GoodFellas. Yet this film dives much, much deeper into its protagonist's hedonism, even making Martin Scorsese's earlier output seem relatively restrained by comparison.

This approach is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Leonardo DiCaprio carries the picture effortlessly, Nicholson-ing it up in what is comfortably his finest performance. Thelma Schoonmaker's editing remains exemplary, and the film never bores you once throughout its 180 minute runtime. But on the other hand, its innumerable indulgences do get exhausting after a while. Three hours of swearing, nudity, and substance abuse is enough to tax anyone's system, making The Wolf of Wall Street seem a little repetitive after a while. Who knows, maybe it's a little too Belfort-centric: where Lorraine Bracco was able to balance out Ray Liotta's excess in GoodFellas, Cristin Milioti and Margot Robbie aren't really given the chance to do the same here.

Nevertheless, The Wolf of Wall Street is still a deliciously depraved offering from Scorsese, which pulls off the seemingly impossible in making the viewer root for the most reprehensible people imaginable, before eventually viewing their inescapable comeuppance through a lens of righteous condemnation. Take that, Oliver Stone!

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