**** 1/2 out of 5
Rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence
Article first published as Movie Review: 'The Wolf of Wall Street' on Blogcritics.
Right now director David O. Russell is about as close as anyone’s come to making a Martin Scorsese film with American Hustle.
But when Scorsese himself directs a new film, there’s nothing else like
it in theaters. And just when we thought Scorsese had been playing it a
little safe after winning Best Director and Picture among many other
things for The Departed (see Shutter Island and to a lesser extent Hugo), he’s back where he belongs in a world of seedy loveable criminals with the big screen biopic of Jordan Belfort’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
is the over-the-top true story of Belfort’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) rise to
glory in the corporate banking world and, of course, on Wall Street.
His first big day on the job happens to be on October 19, 1987 (known as
Black Monday), but all this is after he gets more advice than he could
have asked for from Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), who tells him
success lies in cocaine, masturbation, and hookers. Something Belfort
eventually takes completely to heart.
Moving on to penny stock trading, he decides to take his friends and
form his own business. Eventually making millions, developing one hell
of a drug habit, and leaving his wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) for Naomi
(Margot Robbie). Living the dream of excess is the name of the game,
until FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) comes knocking. From
here, Belfort begins a downhill slide into ruin, while getting taken
down by the one person he should be able to trust the most, Donnie Azoff
Everyone performs at the top of their game, including Scorsese. No
one makes a movie like he can, even if Russell seems willing to give him
a run for his money. Originally running four hours long, Scorsese has
trimmed the film down to 180 minutes that fly by faster than most 90
minute comedies could ever dream. DiCaprio is amazing as always, keeping
the faintest hint of humanity floating beneath the devilish surface.
And anyone who complained about Jonah Hill being nominated for Moneyball
can eat their words with how fantastic he is here. Even Margot Robbie
as Naomi, manages to steal scenes away from DiCaprio proving that being
good looking doesn’t mean you can’t act. But if all she could do was
look good with her clothes off, what would she be doing starring in a
really fizzle in the final few scenes and should have ended about five
minutes sooner — blame could probably rest on screenwriter Terence
Winter — but it also could be Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker
working in overdrive to get the film edited for the Christmas Day
release. And on that topic, there are always odd Christmas release
choices —typically of the horror variety — but this certainly fits in as
well. It was reported that on top of the bloated runtime, the MPAA was
going to slap the film with an NC17 rating. Considering the amount of
nudity, sex, and drug use still in the film, I can’t even imagine how
much more there could have been before. A few scenes start to feel
pornographic but are played more for laughs which is probably how they
kept within an R-rating.
A particular scene near the end has DiCaprio and Hill hopped up on
expired Quaaludes is one of the funniest and intense scenes of the year;
a true showstopper. In fact, most of The Wolf of Wall Street
plays this way with one scene after the other seeming to want to top the
previous. When Scorsese releases a film, of course it’s going to be one
of the best of the year, and hopefully, it will see its share of
nominations come Oscar time. Is it the best film of the year however?
I’m still tied up between American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave. But
believe me, The Wolf of Wall Street is certainly a doozy and it’s nice to see that Scorsese still has the magic behind the camera.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures