The Wolf Of Wall Street review


In the first five minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street, we’re hit with a mont­age of dwarf toss­ing, blow jobs in fast cars, Miller Light mod­els reclin­ing in lingerie with a come hither look, osten­ta­tious houses sur­roun­ded by acres of land, massive yachts with heli­copter land­ing pads attached to them, and Leonardo DiCaprio snort­ing drugs out of a hooker’s bum hole.

Help­fully, DiCaprio tells us, “Put your dick back in your pants!” Then, shortly after­wards, the story rewinds to a cleaner time, veins run­ning free of booze and other illi­cit sub­stances. It’s here that we’re intro­duced to Mat­thew McConaughey, in an all too brief cameo that fur­ther cements his redis­covered status as a ser­i­ous, scene steal­ing actor, after being mired in rom­com hell and nude bongo playing.

He proves to be the extra push that DiCaprio’s char­ac­ter needs, set­ting him on a highly suc­cess­ful path towards untold riches. The char­ac­ter is Jordan Belfort, a stock­broker, and The Wolf of Wall Street is based on his real-life mem­oirs. Back in the eighties, Belfort stumbled into a job selling penny stocks, and real­ised there was huge amounts of money to be made, if you sold enough of them, thanks to a fifty per­cent com­mis­sion. He then forms his own com­pany with a bunch of friends, which is noth­ing more than a respect­able facade for his stock mar­ket scams.

What fol­lows is near enough two and a half hours of debauch­ery, wild parties, drug addic­tion, and rolling around on beds full of bank notes. For a three-hour film, it feels remark­ably short, con­firm­ing that time really does fly when you’re hav­ing fun. And these guys have a lot of fun. I mean, insane amounts of fun. Hardly a minute goes by without some­thing totally out­rageous happening.

I won’t spoil what DiCaprio and the gang get up to, as much of the joy is gained from see­ing just how much things spiral out of con­trol, and the less you know about their hijinks, the bet­ter. Under the smart dir­ec­tion of Mar­tin Scorsese, hand­ling the cam­era in a way that belies his sev­enty years of age, every suc­cess, every monu­mental cock-up is machine-gunned across the screen, until it gets to the point where you can’t help but laugh. He may not have set out to make a com­edy, espe­cially given all the shitty things that Belfort got up to, but that’s what we get. It ends up being a lot fun­nier than most of the com­ed­ies I’ve seen in the last ten years.

Scorsese is such a mas­ter at cata­loguing a man’s down­fall, that there’s a per­verse pleas­ure in wit­ness­ing the good times turn bad in the last hour. His style is non-judgemental, refus­ing to do too much hand wringing. Maybe that’s down to Belfort him­self, as he rarely seems sorry for any­one that he’s ripped off. He’s a product of the Reagan­ite era, a time which empowered sociopaths who wanted to get ahead. But Scorsese gives us the unvar­nished story, and let’s us judge Belfort for ourselves.