RELEASED: 17th January 2014
DIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese
CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Cristin Milioti, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Jon Favreau, Shea Whigham, Christine Ebersole, Katarina Čas, P.J Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Brian Sacca, Henry Zebrowski, Ethan Suplee, Jake Hoffman, Barry Rothbart, Mackenzie Meehan, Spike Jonze, Bo Dietl, Aya Cash, Madison McKinley Garton, Jon Spinogatti and Matthew McConaughey
BOX OFFICE WORLDWIDE: $392m
AWARDS: 1 Golden Globe (Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical)
In the early 1990’s, Jordon Belfort and his partner Donny Azoff started a brokerage firm named Stratford-Oakmont. Their company quickly grows from a team of twenty staff members to nearly a thousand as their status in the trading community grew. The film details the abuse and lies told as their status grew, putting them on the radar of the FBI.
After bringing us Hugo to the big screen, Martin Scorsese returned in 2013 with a vastly different film: The Wolf of Wall Street, a biographical black comedy that is based on Jordan Belfort’s 2007 memoir of the same name which is adapted by Terence Winter. Here, the film recounts the life of Jordan Belfort, who secures a job as a stockbroker on Wall Street for L.F Rothschild, but then no sooner does his promising career start that it comes to a halt following Black Monday, the largest one day stock market drop in history that occurred in 1987. When Belfort learns about penny stocks at a small brokerage firm in Long Island, his aggressive pitching style and ambition that comes with the high commissions from selling the penny stocks, he decides to found his own company with neighbour Donnie Azoff, leading to the creation of Stratford Oakmont, and run a pump and dump scheme that would lead the company to becoming successful, but at the cost of the FBI investigating the company. The person that instantly makes an impression on Jordan Belfort however in his early days of being a stockbroker was Mark Hanna (with Matthew McConaughey leaving a memorable impression in a film that he’s on screen for no longer than ten minutes), telling them the tricks of the trade, besides making customers reinvest their winnings, that masturbation and cocaine are the keys to success. So at just under three hours, the film has a lot of narration, a number of fourth-wall breaks with Belfort talking to the audience and while the film can be seen as glamourising his lifestyle as well as making him out to be an inspirational figure to those that want to capture that wealth, they’re completely missing the point as the film clearly points out just how sleazy and morally corrupt they are. Hell, even during one of the narrations Jordan says, “So I was sellin’ them shit, but the way I looked at it, the money was better off in my pocket”. The film doesn’t sugarcoat or play down the antics that they company got up to, and granted some will find their antics (drugs, sex with hookers, repeat) as a bit repetitive, the film still feels like it breezes through the narrative, which is some feat considering its runtime, and that’s a compliment to the collaboration of film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, and Martin Scorsese. The cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto is also wonderful here. In terms of performances, for me personally, I think this is my favourite performance of Leonardo DiCaprio’s. He has an absolute blast portraying a larger than life figure like Jordan Belfort, captivating you every second he’s on screen, and his physical acting was absolutely fantastic here, particularly in the Lemmon 714 sequence. Jonah Hill provides most of the laughs as Donnie Azoff, Margot Robbie would become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood that decade after her star-turning performance as Naomi Lapaglia, Jordan Belfort’s second wife. The rest of the very large ensemble are great in their roles, from Jon Bernthal, PJ Byrne, Kenneth Choi, Brian Sacca and Henry Zebrowski as Jordan Belfort’s inner circle, to Kyle Chandler as FBI Agent Patrick Denham that’s investigating the firm, Jean Dujardin as corrupt Swiss banker Jean-Jacques Saurel, and Rob Reiner as Jordan’s father Max Belfort. It might not be the favourite Scorsese film of mine, but it’s easily his most rewatchable.
FAVOURITE SCENE: The Lemmon Quaaludes 714 kicks in and knocks Jordan Belfort on his ass and we hilariously watch on as he makes an attempt to get back into his lamborghini. The physical performance from Leonardo DiCaprio is done to a tremendously comedic effect.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: “An I.P.O. is an initial public offering. It’s the first time a stock is offered for sale to the general population. Now as the firm taking the company public, we set the initial sales price then sold those shares right back to our friends. Yet…look, I know you’re not following what I’m saying anyway, right? That’s… that’s okay, that doesn’t matter. The real question is this: was all this legal? Absolutely fucking not. But we were making more money than we knew what do with.” – Jordan Belfort
DID YOU KNOW: The actors snorted crushed B vitamins for scenes that involved cocaine. Jonah Hill claimed that he eventually became sick with bronchitis after so much inhaling and had to be hospitalised.