“The Wolf Of Wall Street”
Written by: Terence Winter (Adapted from the book ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ by Jordan Belfort)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Story: Based on the autobiographical novel by Jordan Belfort, ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ profiles his rise to fame and fortune as a stockbroker, and his subsequent downfall involving corruption, fraud, and crime
There are two words needed when one begins to review ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’:
Both are famous from previous works such as ‘The Departed’, there is almost a stigma attached to the works of this pair. When entering the theatre, you know that you are going to see something that could make you laugh, cry, and think for days on end.
Having come across Jordan Belfort a few years ago amongst sales training seminars, I personally was familiar with his story. I read ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ in all it’s glory long before venturing to the cinema, and I can only imagine the look on Terence Winter’s face when Scorsese handed him this novel and said, ‘I want you to make this into a screenplay, and spare no detail’. And this is exactly what Winter did.
The screenplay itself is phenomenal: it captures the very essence of the book and when put on screen eludes something almost like a drug: the lives of these characters is so attainable, yet so poisonous: an audience is tempted and almost lured into this world that is so convincingly created, yet they know that it cannot lead to any good. The only thing missing from the screenplay has received a huge amount of backlash. Throughout the whole novel we get the distinct impression that Belfort is not proud of himself: he is very remorseful when telling his story. Indeed, Scorsese has come under fire for apparently ‘glorifying’ this life of sex, drugs, and stock fraud. Wiping out this sense of guilt does not do any favours and might be the only thing missing.
Having said this, DiCaprio is nothing short of mesmerising in this role and it appears that this was the part he was born to play. We laugh with him; tense when he tenses; and hang on to every facial spasm as if it is the end of his days. For a film that plays for three hours, this is essential and an integral part of the story. DiCaprio’s diversity is well on show, as he is both happy and distraught at the drop of a hat.
Comic relief comes in the form of Jonah Hill, who plays Belfort’s partner in crime Donnie Azoff. Hill truly does pull out all the stops to create his stupid yet sincerely likeable character: he even creates a sense that was missing from the book: that Donnie really is Belfort’s support system and lifeline through much of their ordeal. Rumour has it Hill was even arguing with film crew to let him actually eat a goldfish to make the scene the most realistic. There is no doubt that this work will put Jonah Hill in a different league of Hollywood actor altogether.
As much as word limits might hold us back, we simply cannot discuss this film without mentioning Margot Robbie. An Australian actress and a relative unknown, Robbie masters everything to do with this part, from the accent to the demeanour, and even the look and feel of Naomi Lapaglia. She is feisty, good hearted, and an intoxicating ‘sex kitten’, which serves exactly the purpose of her in Belfort’s life: she is his anchor, but also his biggest weakness. Robbie’s stellar contributions to the most emotional and consequential scenes in this film could not be replaced.
Scorsese is on fine form and has spared no expense here. When watching a Scorsese film, one gets the feeling that everything that can be controlled has been: the lighting, audio, cinematography… All of these end up completely inessential to the story, however they make watching a three hour film all the more enjoyable.
Scorsese possesses a rare gift in a filmmaker in his ability to create an entirely different universe for his audience to enjoy. When we are watching Belfort and his merry group of men parade around New York City, we do not make that connection to real life. We cannot process that this was actually New York City, and these things actually happened. We are, for that brief time, drawn into Scorsese’s world of free living and we daren’t look back. When we do come to it makes the film all the more enjoyable to try and believe that these things, the people, and the actions were in fact real. Majority of the audience will spare little afterthought for the negative consequences of this story: they will be drawn to love the simplicity of the human characters that we are offered.
‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ is a must see for anyone with burning ambition to be something in life, or anyone who knows someone exactly like that. We are all a little bit of Jordan Belfort.
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*Photo Credit: imdb.com