The Wolf of Wall Street ()

directed by Martin Scorsese
featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler

Show Synopsis

Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DiCaprio for this adaptation of Jordan Belfort's memoir about his exploits as a crooked banker. Terence Winter provides the screenplay. Jonah Hill and Oscar winner Jean Dujardin co-star. Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

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Jun 24, 2019

A Wolf On Any Street

Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is loosely based on a memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort, the main character and the anti-hero of this movie portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. Terrence Winter turned Belfort's book into a highly effective screenplay. "The Wolf of Wall Street" focuses upon the hard elements of American life, as do most Scorsese films. The cinematography is stunning, and the movie holds the viewers attention through its three-hour length.

As portrayed in the film, Belfort would be a wolf on any American or Scorsese street, including Wall Street. The movie focuses on raw greed, lust for power, sex, and drugs. Belfort's unscrupulous greed has no bounds. As the film opens, he is hired by a Wall Street brokerage firm, receives instructions in hustling from a colleague over a drug, alcohol filled lunch and must seek new employment when his firm closes on Wall Street's Black Friday. He soon secures a job hustling penny stocks and excels with his high pressure salesmanship. Then, with some marijuana -trading buddies, he opens his own brokerage house, with the establishment-sounding name of Stratton Oakmont. The fun and fraud truly begin, as Belfort attracts a crew of greedy salespeople, pursues many scams, and quickly becomes unconscionably rich. A hard-working, unpretentious FBI agent played by Kyle Chandler is soon on Belfort's case and ultimately brings about conviction, bar from the securities industry, large fine, and relatively short prison sentence.

Besides the scenes of financial fraud, the movie is laced with profanity (including over 600 use of the --word, a record for a feature film), sex orgies, paid and otherwise, and drug use. Belfort lived, to say the least, a high life of excess with a mansion, fancy cars, a large yacht, and money that required extensive laundering in a questionable Swiss bank. The film is sharply and sardonically funny. It draws the viewer in to an immoral and hedonistic lifestyle, both in its portrayal of Belfort and its portrayal of his associates and his victims who are looking to get rich quick.

The movie includes stunning scenes of a ship sinking at sea, of Belfort rousing his staff with charismatic sales speeches, and of Belfort in a drug-induced stupor driving and wrecking an expensive car on a short ride to his home. These are all separate from the many explicit scenes of sexuality, drinking, and carousing.

The movie portrays a callow, vicious way of life shown by a man in a suit and tie in the United States' financial center. The portrayal is sharp. Some viewers have complained that it glamorizes the life it shows, but I did not find it so.

Many Scorsese films have religious overtones in that they hint of redemption for their deeply flawed protagonists. Belfort gets caught, but does not repent over the course of the movie. At the end, unchastened, he is shown pursuing a hustle similar to what he might have pursued at the beginning. He rejects opportunities to come clean and cooperate until literally forced to do so. There is no redemption in this movie. Rather, we have a raw, unchanged character who somehow attains an unwelcome and anti-heroic stature at the end for continuing to be who he is.

Robin Friedman

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