Movie Review | The Wolf of Wall Street
Movie summary: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government. (IMDb)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a great movie and you should absolutely watch it if you get the chance - just make sure you set aside enough time, because it's a very, very long film. It's really damn good for the majority of the running time, but that length is ultimately very noticeable. Thankfully, it's the only serious flaw Wolf has, leaving it crossing the finish line a little slower than you'd expect.
I first watched this movie in the cinema and went in now knowing how long it was. I cannot tell you what a relief it proved to be that the chairs were very cushioned and super comfortable. If you can't watch it in the same type of comfort, it might be best to break the movie into two parts, otherwise you might well not finish it.
I'm not going to spoil the ending, but it's where the running time really does catch up with the movie and the audience. Events on-screen are less frenetic, the crackling energy of the earlier sections is gone and replaced with a more serious, dramatic tone. It's narratively necessary and also factually required to represent what actually happened, but it doesn't stop it dragging.
Leonardo DiCaprio, playing Jordan Belfort, is fantastic whatever the story asks of him at any given time, although I can see some people viewing him as a little cartoonish or over the top at times. Again, it's something that's required to generally reflect what the real Belfort was like while remaining entertaining for the audience and Leo nails it perfectly.
The biggest surprise for me though was Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff. I'd already seen him in Moneyball, so knew that he had the talent for drama to match his comedic roles and Azoff allows him to utilise his range as an actor brilliantly. He's quite possibly funnier than Belfort, but Hill just can't match DiCaprio's charm, and Azoff felt like a lesser character in comparison despite Hill's best efforts.
The Wolf of Wall Street was also the movie that put Margot Robbie on the map and made her an international superstar practically overnight. The more cynical out there may attribute that to her looks - to be fair, she is drop dead gorgeous here - but it's performance that really stood out. She goes toe-to-toe with Leo and matches him just about every time they share the screen, which is not an easy thing to do, even for far more experienced actors.
Speaking of Robbie's looks, her body is shown off a lot in this movie along with a large number of other women. There is a looot of female flesh on display and it's all sexualised for men - both in-story and the audience - to enjoy. Except that's the point: this is how these men treated these women and how they viewed them. To change how this movie depicts women would be to alter history to meet more modern standards.
And this is probably the best thing about The Wolf of Wall Street and why I like it so much: so many people took the wrong impression from what we see on-screen. Even Scorsese has said that he simply put what happened on-screen and if you liked it and thought it looked like good fun, then that says a lot more about you than the movie.
He's one hundred percent correct too - this movie simply shows you the life these guys led and the debauchery they got away with, but never glorifies it or approves of any of the events. Hell, the ending is these same people being punished for what they did, so the movie is actually pointing out that they weren't right in behaving the way they did.
You can't blame The Wolf of Wall Street or the people that made it for idiots and arseholes thinking that they'd like to get away with what the characters do. It's like Fight Club, where some people ignore that these stories are critical of what we're seeing because it depicts a fantasy that some in the audience might like to see become a reality.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a great movie that is only really let down by its running time, meaning that the ending showing the main characters receiving their just desserts comes when the audience is waiting for the movie to end and has led to so many blaming the movie for glamorising the decadence displayed. Admittedly, it's all extremely entertaining to watch, but surely people should know by now that Scorsese isn't going to make something that shallow, right?