Review: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)


Guest review by Emmanuel Giakoumakis.

There aren’t many directors who are worthy of the notoriety of Martin Scorsese. The list of awards and the mark he has made on pop culture is remarkable; as such The Wolf of Wall Street is sure to add to his list of accolades.

My initial response to the trailers was to score the film to the classic story of Gordon Gecko (Wall Street, 1987). A film which received nowhere near the reception that Scorsese’s masterpiece has received and nowhere near the amount of recognition that both films deserve but I soon realised after considering the director’s past work that it was much more similar to something else I’ve seen. The film I couldn’t help but liken it to was Goodfellas, another remarkably true story whose protagonist shared a similar fate.

The story is based on truth, but the truth is so obscene that no one could possibly relate. We follow the life of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio); a wide eyed stock broker who quickly figures out that greed is going to get him far. Belfort’s life is the epitome of excess; cars, women, money and drugs are king, and are very much a focal point of the film.

Excess being the focal point of the film is also the demise of the protagonist. His greed is self destructive and the plot takes a turn for the worst when these self destructive qualities overpower the sustainability of his survival.

Wolf of Wall Street 1The Wolf of Wall Street is shot in such a way that the viewer is enthralled and sometimes distracted by what they are being presented with. The feel of excessiveness is transcended by vibrant colouring and fast cuts. A technique somewhat abused by Scorsese throughout the film and which can in turn cause confusion at key points; a minor complaint however as the cinematography is captivating and pleasing to the eye.

DiCaprio takes a step up from his last performance and truly envelops the persona and embodiment of the character he portrays. It’s hard to draw the line between where DiCaprio ends and Jordan Belfort begins. His Brooklyn accent is integral in the portrayal of the character and aids the audience in identifying Belfort as the cheap con artist that he truly is. Although we can identify with the protagonist, we feel dirty in doing so; the moral compass of the story lies in this.

Overall The Wolf of Wall Street is bound to receive high praise upon its Australian release and is a film I would highly recommend to audiences that enjoy a fast paced parody of wealth. With an all star cast and an award winning director, a story that may otherwise have been trivialised and over indulgent in production (say if Baz Luhrmann would have directed it) has been executed brilliantly.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese Written by: Terence Winter Based on the Book by: Jordan Belfort Produced by: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza Aziz, Joey McFarland, Emma Tillinger Koskoff Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner Distributed by: Roadshow Run length: 179 minutes Australian Release: Wide release January 23 2014

Pre-order your copy of The Wolf of Wall Street HERE.

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