The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street ★★★★½

"The Wolf of Wall Street" is three hours of sex, drugs and disgusting behavior. It is, in no way, a film for the conservative or faint of heart. And while the film isn't a show of support for such behavior, I wouldn't necessarily call it satire. The film is, first and foremost, a depiction of horrible people doing horrible things. But a film doesn't necessarily have to follow a good guy, and a film doesn't have to necessarily have to point out how bad a certain person is. So, while "The Wolf of Wall Street" doesn't go out of its way to condemn Jordan Belfort, anybody of sound mind and with half a conscience would know that he was about as far away from a good person as you could get. And, by the end of the film, I was sure of three things:

1) For a film running 179 minutes, I was never bored. Every time the film felt like it was slowing down, another great scene began. Which leads me to my second point...
2) This was Martin Scorsese's best film in years. While I liked "Shutter Island" more than most, I don't think any of Scorsese's offerings from the 2000s have been particularly great. But this film immediately joins the ranks of his best. The direction is almost perfect. And...
3) Leonardo DiCaprio delivers his best performance- and this is coming from a non-fan. While DiCaprio isn't really a bad actor, he plays the same role almost every time and, frankly, it's become tiring. But he commits so completely to this role- both physically and mentally- that it's a complete transformation, regardless of the fact that he looks the exact same.

This is a complete powerhouse of a film. Entertaining from beginning to end, yet simultaneously disgusting, repulsive and downright horrifying. These people are monsters, and are never made to be sympathetic, but Scorsese captures their actions with such energy that you can't take your eyes off the screen. So many of these sequences- McConaughey's speech, Naomi and Jordan's many fights and, most notably, the "lemon" sequence- are as phenomenally executed as they are depressing.

Much credit must also go to the cast: As I mentioned, DiCaprio gives his best performance by far. But Jonah Hill is also revelatory as Donnie, in a performance that constantly walks the tightrope between "creepy" and "hilarious." Margot Robbie also emerges on the screen as a star to watch- it's a confident, brave performance that shows that she could have a long career in Hollywood. And the fact that she's Australian makes her performance all the more worthwhile- her accent is flawless.
In supporting roles, McConaughey, Kyle Chandler and Rob Reiner also do a good job.

I was skeptical about "The Wolf" ever since the first trailer arrived. It looked good, but my lack of interest in Scorsese's recent output and my relative dislike of Leo made me think I just wouldn't care. But this is one of the year's best films. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a high tolerance for nudity, cocaine and debauchery in general.

Matt T liked these reviews