The Wolf of Wall Street – 4.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Wolf of Wall StreetThe Wolf of Wall Street – 4.5/5 – Sometimes you just have to throw out anything you would say in a prologue.  Sometimes, you just have to go straight to the point; This film falls into the accolades of all of Scorsese work.  A marvel of a movie, this is probably the best film of the year, not to forget the funniest and endearing film I’ve seen this year.  Scorsese scores big again.

Premise: Based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, the film focuses on his rise through Wall Street, as he becomes one of the wealthiest stockbrokers in the early 1990s.

In the lead role of Jordan Belfort is actor Leonardo DiCaprio.  DiCaprio basically kills it as Jordan Belfort.  To me, he quite possibly gives his best acting job to date of his career.  Within this role, he creates a character that is divulge of any subtlety, a person that has a very strong outspoken personality.  His charisma draws you into this character; making you feel his pain and suffering, while also basking in his success.  You realize that on the surface, he is crude, crazed and vile person.  Even with that true aspects of himself, he gives a layer of charm that shows off that he is deeply smart, articulate; a person that knows how to work magic with his ‘out spoken’ behavior.  Within this bravado, he makes you believe in success, wealth and life.   All of this helps define who Jordan Belfort is as a man and a person.  You see the flaws in his ambition, as he blindly follows in the faith of working hard to make money, all the while it is consuming his life.  Within that life style, DiCaprio helps add even more depth, creating a man who indulges on excess; either through physical acts of debauchery or through his monologues and interactions with his family or his inner circle at work.  He engrosses you into his psyche, showing how the excess is both mind numbing and abruptly hilarious.  The one reason I say this is his best performance is that for all that dramatization that he plays up to in this picture, the comedic elements in his ‘over the top’  outburst and sequences are so riveting, you forget the fact that he is DiCaprio and believe he is Jordan Belfort.  Opposite DiCaprio you have many other actors/actress that are either his confidantes, family members or just general people he knows.  They are:

Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff

Matthew McConaughey as Mark Hanna

Rob Reiner as Max Belfort

Jon Bernthal as Brad

Jon Favreau as Manny Riskin

Jean Dujardin as Jean Saurel

Margot Robbie as Naomi

Kyle Chandler as Agent Patrick Denham

All of these actors/actress do a fantastic job in not just taking the ordinary route in creating supporting acts, but providing characters with true worth and distinction.  Each of the cast do a great job in creating people of believable status, ones that have real effect on both the story and Jordan Belfort.  Out of this group, the real stand out is Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff.  Donnie is Jordan’s right hand man for the investment company.  In being that right hand man, he has a lot of scenes with Jordan, and those scenes range from comedic sequences to dramatic expositions about work, life and success.  No matter what is being created on screen, Jonah creates a character that is real and grounded, but very smart and witty.  His dialogue goes hand in hand with DiCaprio’s, as you feel as if their bond cannot be broken, one that you believe as a true friendship.  The rest of the cast that isn’t mentioned are very relative to specific moments or sequences in the film.  The help adds additional flavor to the comedy or serious elements.

The direction of the film is a mixture of chronological, journey and characterization.  The film is setup by moments and memoirs of the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort.  From here, through his monologue and introduction, you get an insight into what forms Belfort’s purpose and reasoning; he wants to succeed and become the best at being a stock broker.  Through it all, you get tossed into the world of what’s ‘Wall Street’ as well as the excess and dangers that follow.  The movie is very tonal in the effect that it has, as well as a fast pace; the movie moves quickly through the initial introduction of Jordan, and never let’s up as it continues through the rise of Jordan into the creation of a bigger investment firm.  Through that rise, you get to see how specific points have an effect on his career; everything from when he was a lowly pawn, to him becoming one of the most successful people in his own investment firm.  The one thing that makes this all entertaining is that you get a lot of slick dialogue, witty humor and a straight up emphasis on the overall excess and indulgence that happens in a brokerage firm (even if dramatized).  One thing that is a definite mark of a Scorsese movie is the strong characters; and you get that in this film.  As much as the film has a strong focus on the issues of what goes on Wall Street and its indulging factor, the characterization of Jordan Belfort is what brings it all into one focus.  As you watch his career take off, you also see as his own persona evolves from a ‘sheep’ mentality to one that has a ‘wolf’ mindset; someone that is not afraid to speak his mind, do what he wants, and dive head first into any decision he makes.  His brazen attitude vibrates through the rest of his members of the inner circle, as you watch as they follow suit in this driving path, changing along with the amount of success they achieve.  Another great aspect of Scorsese is that he does a miraculous job in juggling all these multiple threads into one ominous tone.  For this particular film, he puts that focus on the excess and manner of what happens on Wall Street (behind the scenes), while blending it with humor, drama and strong raw appeal.  In doing that, you will either gasp, fall in awe or laugh hysterically through it all.  As I mentioned earlier, the film moves very fast through its chronological direction; chaining events of Jordan’s career.  All of the decisions he makes within the film and all the sequences that happen eventually lead to a boiling point he didn’t foresee coming.  He is completely caught up in all the success blindly, that others begin to sniff around his business practices, especially the FBI.  Here, the film slows its pace, but the overall dramatic and comedic tones stay steadfast.  In the slowing of the pace, it helps create even more endearing and hilarious moments that are on par with the first parts of the film.  Once all that he builds begins to cave in on him, you watch as all the weaving lines began to focus on very common aspect of films like this, the journey.  In a ‘journey’ aspect, that is when the main character usually begins to look back, question moves of previous encounters, and have an epiphany that defines the moment of no return.  This happens at the point of when all caves in on Jordan, leading to some predictable points that garners some clever mishaps and closure to some parts of the story.  Once certain dominos fall, we head into a climax that is familiar to a ‘cop out’ kind of ending.  The one thing you have to keep in mind is that this is all a true story, so the ‘cop out’ ending becomes a mute point. Once all ends, you begin to find some connection to the journey, and the indulgences that happen in the film.  You see that perspective they give on success, and the consequences that it may have on life.

The visuals of the film are one that speaks rhythms of color on a subtle scale.  With a look into the whole workings of Wall Street and its excesses, you get a very realistic approach to everything.  Through the ‘focal’ points of the camera work, you get a broader appeal because of the contrast of general living to high class of stoke brokers.  That helps you feel the outrageousness of the film, but stay true to realism.  The score helps add a very unique flavor to the comedy and dramatic scenes.   The music is a mimic of the times, but helps bring you into the era as well as the story.

Overall, The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the best films of the year, and another great one from Martin Scorsese.  If you’re a fan of any of the actors or the director, this is worth seeing at the theater.  You be entertained from beginning till the end.

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