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Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street depicts the ruthless rise and meteoric fall of Wall Street anti-hero Jordan Belfort’s self-made world of excess and debauchery. He was convicted of fraud, based on stock manipulation and running a penny stock boiler room, for which he spent 22 months in prison. “Making money is so easy. It really is. It’s not hard to do,” said Belfort in New York Magazine.
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, perfectly embodying the man’s effortless charisma and fast talking ways. In his portrayal, DiCaprio gives numerous rousing, passionate speeches to Belfort’s company Stratton Oakmont, showing the breadth of his leadership and influence. As always, DiCaprio gives an impressive performance, but his depiction of Belfort’s eccentricities and almost laughable bacchanalia is a departure from DiCaprio’s serious, dramatic roles. DiCaprio’s Golden Globe win as Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical was certainly well-deserved. As he was the “king of the world” in Titanic, DiCaprio is the “wolf of the world” in this movie.
In addition to DiCaprio, Jonah Hill is hilarious as the dorky Donnie Azoff, Belfort’s right-hand man. Just as he received critical praise as a supporting actor to Brad Pitt in Moneyball, Hill proves that his comedic chops serve as a perfect complement to A-List stars. Also, Matthew McConaughey is a scene stealer in his brief role as a mentor to a young, unassuming Belfort.
Some audience critics accuse Scorsese and the production company of glamorizing criminal activity and drug use. In his book Catching the Wolf of Wall Street: More Incredible True Stories of Fortunes, Schemes, Parties, and Prison, Belfort shares the seemingly unrealistic atmosphere of Stratton Oakmont, just as portrayed in the movie. “After all, it wasn’t every firm that sported hookers in the basement, drug dealers in the parking lot, exotic animals in the boardroom and midget-tossing competitions on Friays,” he writes.
However, DiCaprio’s performance shows how drug and alcohol abuse caused Belfort to become paranoid and make poor decisions, in both his business and personal life, such as his two divorces. Although the movie is about three hours long, it does not lack direction or plot substance.
This movie shows the excessive, unbridled greed that exists in certain Wall Street companies and depicts the antics that Belfort described in his memoir. This may not be an ideal movie to see with your parents due to the countless nude scenes and sexual overtones; it may be the closest thing that viewers have seen to an orgy in a movie. Many audience members were probably desensitized to the presence of nudity over the course of the movie.
Following Belfort’s arrest and restitution payment, the audience may believe that justice had been served and Belfort would be reduced to life in an orange jumpsuit, without mansions, yachts and fancy cars. However, “He earned more than $2 million for the books and film rights, five figures for speeches he gives, along with income from investments he’s made in Australia,” New York Magazine reports.
In addition to impressive performances, particularly by DiCaprio and Hill, there is a deeper meaning behind this movie: a lack of justice lies within white collar crime.
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