Growing up with next to nothing financially has the ability to create a mindset in a person that has the potential to see them reach for a massive fortune thought to be unattainable for most. What’s seen as a detrimental upbringing to some can establish a mentality within young people that’s filled with a desire to succeed in any way imaginable. In The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese gives us a character who is just like that. He’s also a character based on an actual person.
That person’s name is Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), and he’s had the ultimate goal of being rich in his heart and soul for as long as he can remember. Because of his financially difficult upbringing, he began to idolize money and wanted all of the power and materials that come with it. With that in mind, this ambitious young man headed straight toward the field of stock broking with his eyes wide open, his mouth closed shut and his ears kept at attention just so he could learn the art of the deal.
Entering the game of decimal points, dollar signs and dreams like this shows that Belfort has what it takes to go places. The young professional learns how to operate in this fast-moving and unpredictable place of business while constructing a style and flair that only the best stockbrokers have. Because of this, it gives him the chance to accomplish what he originally set out to do and then some, but it won’t be easy.
After doing all he could to find financial success, Belfort runs into some hard times, but eventually finds himself in a position where he’s cashing an insanely large check every month. This makes everything from his wallet to his ego grow, but that’s not enough for the hungry and ambitious man from humble beginnings. He wants more and more from the hard work he puts in, and puts forth a plan that sees him recruiting his own employees and building his own firm which would come to be named Stratton Oakmont.
His success up until this point has been enormous, but he’s not doing it all the way that he’s supposed to be doing it from a standpoint of legality. Much of the money that he’s bringing comes to him in a way that’s breaking several laws, and that’s the kind of stuff could get you prison time or get into your conscience at the very least. Luckily for him and the guys that he recruits, there isn’t an inkling of a conscience in sight. He and his boys want money, women, drugs and a bunch of fun times in and out of the office. The other stuff just isn’t for them.
The Wolf of Wall Street tells a story about success and greed that begins in the late 1980’s and stretches on for years after. It features plenty of things that a lot of people want along with some of the things that some of those same people would do all they could to shy away from. There’s something about it that can and probably will pull you in and keep you engaged as a viewer, and that’s important when you take into account that the film is Scorsese’s longest at about three hours.
What I described in the description of The Wolf of Wall Street also is only a very small portion of what takes place in the movie. Make no mistake about it, this Scorsese flick is for adults and adults alone. Right from the opening scenes, you’ll see that and some may believe that it deserved a rating of NC-17 with as much stuff as they put on the screen for the audience to indulge in.
R-rated movies done on this scale are rare in this day and age, but it also became more risky to put something as graphic as this up on the big screen. That’s where Red Granite Pictures comes in. These guys put a ton of money into this film based on the real life of Jordan Belfort and his adventures in the stock market. They wanted no limitations with what was going to be put on camera and that’s exactly what they got from Scorsese (Director) and DiCaprio (Producer).
Because of that, the ruthlessness and deviant behaviors that are seen here are just as they should be. The Wolf of Wall Street is raw and is able to bask in all of its deviant glory with no thoughts of regret. There’s drug use, a seemingly uncountable number of nude scenes, some mature rated comedy and even a tad bit of violence.
Just like Red Granite, Scorsese wanted The Wolf of Wall Street to be an honest picture that didn’t really sugar coat anything just to make it watchable for people who may find it too vile otherwise. That leads to this black comedy to be something that doesn’t attempt to vilify or even redeem Jordan Belfort or any of the people he ran with back in those days. They’re simply telling you a story and asking you to see it for what it is. Outside of that, how you see their actions, behaviors and personalities is completely up to you.
That something that doesn’t happen enough in mainstream American films these days. There’s generally a desire to satisfy everyone and make things tolerable for certain people who may not even be completely interested in the story or its subject matter. With films like The Wolf of Wall Street, there’s nothing telling us how to feel or what to think. This doesn’t exist to cater to what we want to feel or what we want to have happen.
Because of this, what we get from Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort is a likeable guy with some unlikable traits. He’s exactly the kind of person who would do something like this and manage to lead a lot of people with him on his way to the top due to his charisma and his way with words. With him at the helm, The Wolf of Wall Street allows us to revel in that world of the morally corrupt without getting our hands dirty and gives viewers a chance to understand why someone like him would be in the position that he’s in. That aspect along with many other things are fundamental to The Wolf of Wall Street’s cinematic achievements.
With the story, the insane level of debauchery and the entertaining acting from the cast, The Wolf of Wall Street gives people a reason to go to their local cinemas and actually enjoy a movie that doesn’t involve superheroes or movies based on novels for teenage girls. It’s around three hours long, but if you have time to spare, I find it difficult to believe that you’ll go home too disappointed. It is that fun and is one of the best films of 2013.
Not only is it all that I say it is, The Wolf of Wall Street might actually be more than that when you’re talking about Martin Scorsese. I hope that this film also signifies a permanent return to adult oriented films for the seventy-one year old filmmaking veteran. He ventured into a safer realm with 2011’s Hugo, but that’s clearly not where he belongs. He belongs in a world where people who are old enough to drink take center stage and deal with some mature subject matter. Welcome back, Scorsese. Let’s hope that there’s no going back to the realm of PG.
Director: Martin Scorsese
P. J. Byrne
Film Length: 179 minutes
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Distributor: Paramount Pictures