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Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio join forces for the fifth time to bring to life the extreme, hard to believe, true story of Jordan Belfort, in The Wolf of Wall Street.  Their only collaboration to not garner an Academy Award for Best Picture nomination has been Shutter Island. The Wolf of Wall Street has already received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy/Musical, and an Oscar bid seems inevitable.  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the production of this film.  It has been cut down to a sleek three hour running time already.  And additional cuts were made to get its rating down to R, and away from the dreaded NC-17.  I knew little about what the film was about, and only watched one short trailer.  But, the controversy had me intrigued, and I went in will modest to above average expectations.

The Wolf of Wall Street opens with Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) driving his Ferrari erratically while his lady’s head is in his lap.  Yes, it is going to be that kind of movie.  During his opening voiceover, we learn that he is addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol and above all else MONEY.  Scenes of hard partying and snorting cocaine out of hooker’s asses fill the screen.  Again, it is going to be that kind of film.  Suddenly, we are thrown back to when it all started.  Jordan worked for Mark Hanna (Matthew McCoaughey) on Wall Street in the late eighties.  He learns how to be a broker, and what it takes to make the big bucks.  The market then crashes, and Jordan finds himself jobless.

This is when Jordan Belfort learns of penny stocks.  His life changes forever.  He hires his childhood friends and his neighbor, and they start Stratton Oakmont.  It is a brokerage firm that basically functions as a boiler room.  They sell thousands of penny stocks to unsuspecting clients by various defrauding techniques.  These transactions earn a 50% commission to the seller.  This causes them all to get filthy rich.  This caches the eye of Agent Denhem (Kyle Chandler).  As Agent Denhem tightens the net, Jordan cannot help his addiction to the Benjamins.

The Wolf of Wall Street never feels as long as it is until the last act.  Jordan is caught, and the drama portion of the film feels like the brakes have been slammed on the film.  The first two hours and twenty minutes are hilarious and fly by.  Watching Jordan and his friends, specifically Donnie (Jonah Hill), celebrate being rich is amazing.  I am not sure how much of it actually happened, but the debauchery of these men knows no limit.  It is when the drama comes in at the end that the film starts to fall apart.  It feels like a completely different film.  Yet, the ending shows you the consequences.

The directing and acting are superb.  Scorsese is one of the best in the business, and he puts his best on display once again.  DiCaprio tackles the role of Jordan as he does most roles: This is Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort.  I never forget that I am watching DiCaprio.  All his characters are him as ______.  He is great in the role, but this is why he can never bring home the Oscar.  Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie are scene stealers.  Robbie plays Naomi, Belfort’s wife.  They are simply amazing.  I was never a real big fan of Jonah Hill, but his dramatic work is actually quite good.  This is the first time that I have seen Margot Robbie, and I am very impressed.  I look forward to seeing more of her (though all of her was on display here).  A slew of actors and actresses make cameos in the film.

The story may seem far-fetched at times, and it might be.  I want to read the autobiography of the same name, but it is very long.  I can only imagine what they left out of this crazy story.  While it is three hours long, I would love to see the uncut full version of the film.  The Wolf of Wall Street is a long film full of plenty of vices.  It is unlike anything Scorsese and DiCaprio have done before, but it is well worth your time and money.

An interesting fact: Jordan Belfort’s story was also the inspiration behind 2000’s
Boiler Room.  I plan to go back and watch this two-hour forgotten film. 

RATING: 8.5/10


 

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