By: Alex Guzmán
Getting in the ring with Martin Scorsese always hits you with a knockout punch. And “The Wolf of Wall Street” is Scorsese at the top of his game. The film overcomes you like that third rail of pure cocaine. Your eyes widen, your jaw clenches, your knuckles turn white and you’re hooked instantly; you become a fiend.
Although banned and censored in several foreign markets, it’s as if Scorsese’s been preparing for the past two years for his title fight, perhaps over the span of 40 years since he directed “Mean Streets.” Trained and ready to hit the audience with a knockout combination, he succeeds.
With 506 F-bombs, hardcore and kinky sex, 99% pure cocaine, hookers, Lamborghinis, multi-million dollar yachts, country clubs, corruption, greed, embezzlement, federal investigations, dwarf tossing and more full frontal nudity than you see in most soft core pornography, this smörgåsbord of a film will leave you both appalled and enthralled. Lemon 714 Quaaludes lead to easily one of the best on-screen drug scenes in contemporary cinema. If this upsets the natural order of your peaceful tranquil disposition then perhaps “Disney’s Cinderella” is more your pace?
But behind all of the things is the Wolf — the 20-something year old charismatic penny stock tycoon Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). At just a little over 3 hours, it can have you feeling overwhelmed by the abundantly disgusting human nature of Belfort, yet you never lose interest as this film. Martin Scorsese, a master craftsman, leaves you feeling completely and utterly unable to check your text messages, avert your eyes or miss even one second — the entire film is just simply too damn good!
Scorsese doesn’t hold back in “Wolf.” Tidal waves of stinging quips at the real Belfort and America’s greedy capitalist culture wash over the audience in the dark cinema leaving the audience in a deep pensive state of bewilderment and hedonistic guilty pleasures. The question I asked myself in those moments were “am I inspired by and jealous of Belfort, or am I wholly repulsed by him?” This question will haunt you for some time after you’ve seen this film.
As we live in a society that plays up the new American Dream to acquire all the bling possible, we tend to overlook the details of our dreams. “Wolf” leaves you aggressively with the bang that can occur if you’ve acquired the bling vis-à-vis climbing the walls of corruption like Madoff and Boesky only to watch your kingdom crumble to the sea. Bang is almost the perfect word to describe this motion picture in summation actually. Bang is what happens when Belfort takes too many drugs. Bang is what happens when he says “the year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week.” Bang is what happens when he goes to federal prison for 22 months for fraud.
You see bling on the other hand would be when while being interrogated by the FBI on his multimillion dollar yacht the S.S. Naomi (which happens to have its own helipad), we see Belfort reach into his pocket to reveal a wad of cash that he comically refers to as “fun coupons” which he proceeds to throw at the two Feds investing him as they leave the Naomi, telling them that the money in his hand is a years salary for them.
Part of what makes this movie so enjoyable, so keenly cool, and so horrifying and disturbing all at once is writer Terrance Winter’s macabre yet at time hilarious and outright cool storyline. It’s part dark fantasy, part guilty pleasure and part hatred of Belfort that thrust it’s audience onto the edge of their seats again and again throughout the film.
Jonah Hill and DiCaprio both give the performances of their careers. And the stunning Margot Robbie has just made a name for herself that will carry her very far in her career as an actress. And that name is not just the “Duchess of Bay Ridge” either. Hill is certainly worthy of a best supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards with his both brilliant — although risky at times performance — I pray he’ll be nominated. And as for DiCaprio, well his tour de force performance has him pushing so many envelopes; transforming himself so well and exposing so much raw and uninhibited emotion that it’s no wonder Scorsese had him cast for the fifth time. He’s remarkable. A real pig most of the time, but nonetheless absolutely remarkable.
This film is an adrenaline junky and party monster’s wet dream… on anabolic steroids! Belfort: “On a daily basis I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my ‘back pain,’ Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine…well, because it’s awesome.” This movie keeps you teetering on your seat with outrageous lines like this and infamous “The Sopranos” writer Winter’s call for DiCaprio to go from having an internal monologue, to a dialogue with another character while Scorsese’s cinematographer then swings around the camera via Scorsese’s trademark camera action, the “whip pan”, and has DiCaprio look directly into the camera with his piercing blue eyes and corrupt smile and narrate to the audience directly.
If you think you’re in a mind frame that you can accept this film for what it is — a glutinous hedonist’s paradise that rapidly builds at any cost imaginable — well then, you should definitely go see it. “Is it good”, people have asked me? “Unequivocally so!” I respond. In fact, it’s damn near perfect.