The Wolf Of Wall Street Review: The Grown-Up's D.A.R.E. Lesson

wolf2_02Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Well, Leonardo DiCaprio might finally snag that Oscar he's been vying for with his performance as Jordan Belfort. His character, if you aren't aware, is a real guy who spent 22 months in the slammer for basically swindling money from investors into his own designer suit pockets. Belfort's story has been immortalized in ink thanks to his memoir The Wolf of Wall Street and now permanently inked in the zeitgeist care of Martin Scorsese's much-hyped film of the same name.
It's a story that captures everything wrong with society: greed, gluttony, and pride. Belfort lived his preprison life unapologetically, and Scorsese's celluloid adaptation follows suit. For three hours, audiences are picked up and dragged through the high highs, the higher highs, and the ultimate of comedowns. Even if you've read his book, seeing the revelry Belfort and his crew of broker crooks conducted will leave you nothing short of speechless. Heck, you might have to spend a few minutes in the dark theater searching for your jaw that fell to the floor as the credits begin rolling.
With that said, however, The Wolf of Wall Street is exhaustive. Perhaps that's the point, though. Between the office orgies, copious amounts of cocaine, crack, and quaaludes, and the occasional dwarf tossing, calling it a visual and emotional assault would be an understatement. Debauchery is even putting some of the actions Belfort conducted lightly. This is a Scorsese flick, though, and doing things "lightly" is hardly his cup of tea — which is exactly why no one else but Scorsese could've made this film.
wolf2_01Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Now that that's in the ether, it should be noted that, yes, The Wolf of Wall Street is a good movie (one that'll likely garner a directing and best acting nod from the Academy), but it's also polarizing. From this author's perspective (an author who never really acquired the Scorsese taste), a viewer is either going to love it or hate it. The reason being not because the film itself is bad — it's an A+ effort on all fronts — but because the story is repulsive.
Here's an educated man whose wide eyes, once ready to take on the world, become filled with dollar bill signs like some Saturday morning cartoon. And, not just two dollar bills, but billions. Said eyes then become red with drug indulgence and lust-worthy to the point of having an escort drip hot wax on his back from a candle that had been used as a butt plug. The crazy part is: We're not making this stuff up. You can read it in the book or you can watch the inimitable Leonardo DiCaprio live it out. It's hard to believe that one can possess that much hunger for power. There is no empathy for Belfort's character, and DiCaprio does a fabulous job depicting that. He is the anti-hero one doesn't root for, but can't stop watching him build himself up to the point where the fall is staggering beyond belief (holy quaalude overdose).
All in all, The Wolf of Wall Street is a fine film. It lives up to the hype and deserves whatever awards it might win this coming season. As for this author, spending three hours immersed in Belfort's life was enough. How he survived nearly two decades of that lifestyle is one of the modern-day wonders of the world.

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