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.
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.