Film Review: The Wolf of Wall Street
When Martin Scorsese showed Paramount a 4-hour cut of “The Wolf of Wall Street” with borderline pornographic content, they had to be concerned about the marketability of the film. Clocking in at two hours and fifty-nine minutes and providing just enough sexuality to maintain an R-rating, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is really quite…different.
Based off Jordan Belfort’s memoir, “The Wolf of Wall Street” shows us how Belfort managed to climb up the financial ladder only to spiral out into the madness of his own world. It is bewildering and consistently shocking. The early word for the film stated that it was “pretty much” three hours of sex and drugs, and I cannot dispute that the the sex and drugs are apparent throughout the duration of the film. The moral, however, seems to be lossed upon some detractors.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is more than just a film about corruption, drug addiction, or sex addiction; it is an excessive film about excess. What is too much? When are we too close to the sun? Yes, there is an abundant amount of sexuality and drug abuse in the film, but an argument can easily be made that every minute of the three-hour film contributes to the overall theme and morals that Martin Scorsese and his team were aiming to convey.
Does it feel three hours long? Yes, at times. Terence Winter’s script alternates between fast-paced roguery and slow dialogue that brings the hyperactive characters back down to the Earth. Martin Scorsese uses some unconventional filmmaking techniques along with his long-time editor Thelman Schnoomaker. Where jump-cuts are utilized to make the audience feel uneasy or uncomfortable.
Winter has managed to create a series of miniature monologues and narration from Belfort that occur intermittenly throughout the film, which contributes to both the story and the understanding of Belfort as a self-indulgent character.
There are several scenes in “The Wolf of Wall Street” that are memorable, not because they are raunchy and excessive, but simply because they demonstrate good writing, editing, acting, and film-making in general. Is “The Wolf of Wall Street” a comedy or drama? The kind of comedy “The Wolf of Wall Street” demonstrates stems from its overall shock factor. We laugh because we are shocked and when things get real, we are shocked by what has happened. You can’t have comedy without tragedy, and “The Wolf of Wall Street” demonstrates the marriage between the two genres.
Leonardo DiCaprio may not give his best performance to date, but he still delivers in a few scenes that no other working actor could’ve pulled off. Jonah Hill gives his strongest performance to date; occasionally diverging into his sarcastic charm he is known for, but subdued by Scorsese’s keen direction. The colloboration results in a very scummy and memorable character. Rob Reiner delivers a very underrated performance as Belfort’s father. For his minimal screentime Reiner owns each scene he is present in.
People will remember “The Wolf of Wall Street” for a very long time. It likely won’t win a single Oscar and it won’t get raves across the board from film critics. It is a difficult subject matter to swallow, and yes every film critic is right when they say it is excessive. But, the crazy thing is, the majority of the film actually happened. It was amazing discovering how much of these sexual and drug-addled escapades actually occured.
Martin Scorsese didn’t just bring us into the film, he brought us into the world. He showed us the unconventional way this world operated and it was just so intriguing, and then he showed us the inevitable train-wreck, blood, guts, and all. I loved this film. I really loved this film.