Dinelka Balasuriya’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of last year’s most popular demands and a film that sees Martin Scorsese shy away from “non-Scorsese” genre films the likes of Shutter Island and Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street marks a return to Scorsese’s crime flicks that seemed to be dead following his The Departed. A little overlong, often too ambitious and obviously controversial for its explicit violence and uncomfortably violent and sexual imagery, The Wolf of Wall Street is incredibly entertaining for its duration, often hilarious but as with Scorsese’s other crime films, provides complex human emotion to drive forth its often shallow plot.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance in The Wolf of Wall Street is perhaps, his riskiest performance to date, topping his controversial portrayal of slave trader Calvin Candy from Django Unchained. Being one of Hollywood’s most adored men, his performance in here is defined simply as raw and often uncomfortable. A truly fantastic and obviously committed performance, best exemplified in the film’s most electrifying scene where Jordan experiences side effects of drugs he had being taking for years. One of the year’s best scenes and perhaps, one of Scorsese’s most ambitious and memorable, DiCaprio puts himself at physical harm for the sake of the film’s quality- a truly admirable act for any actor.
Jonah Hill and the rest of the film’s outstanding cast that consists of the likes of Rob Reiner are all fantastic. Jonah Hill is terrific and at times, is reminiscent of some of Joe Pesci’s performances in Scorsese films, especially Nicky from Casino. Scorsese’s direction is outstanding and the passion behind his filmmaking is evident here almost as clearly as it was in The Departed. Though not as tight and immersive an experience, nor as confident and perfect the direction, Scorsese’s joy in filmmaking shows just by how each scene flows through almost as if naturally. Initially, the plot seems somewhat shallow but it is how Scorsese brings forth various characters and themes of greed, obsession and defiance into these vile characters that make The Wolf of Wall Street a film to be viewed on from the outsider’s perspective, as opposed to from the insider’s, like with The Departed.
The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t quite deserving of being hailed as a ‘masterpiece’ that some have hailed. Often extravagant in its portrayal of violence and sexual tension, The Wolf of Wall Street is mostly enjoyable when looking at the film through the eyes of Scorsese’s passion for filmmaking and DiCaprio’s bold and committed portrayal of the vile Jordan Belford.