Quote of the film: “I want you to deal with your problems by getting RICH!” — Jordan Belfort
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) is a Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It is based on the book, with the same name, by Jordan Belfort (played by DiCaprio). The film follows the life and career of Belfort, from starting out as a legit stock broker, building up his own firm, and subsequent criminal activity.
Leonardo DiCaprio gives an incredible performance as the ambitious and substance-addicted Jordan Belfort. DiCaprio takes this character to many ends of the spectrum, from the young and innocent 22-year old just starting out in the stock business, to the inspirational speaker rallying his employees to do a morally-questionable job well done, and to the highs and lows of the drug addict. DiCaprio delivers his speeches with such vigor and and determination that chills ran down my spine. He accessed a myriad of emotions to convey the many sides of Jordan Belfort. A particularly amazing scene is Belfort’s reaction to the 15-year old Quaaludes, where he finds himself in what he calls the “Cerebral Palsy phase”, and crawls and flails from the country club to his car, contorting his body and face in every possible way. His performance is worth the watch.
The film itself is indulgence personified. It is exaggeration to every extreme. The movie focuses on Belfort’s extravagant lifestyle, spending the time to illustrate every specific detail. The film itself is extravagance, as the film lasts 2 hours and 59 minutes, and slams the audience with loud and bold material from start to finish. For that is the point of the picture, to highlight the absurdity of over-indulgence. Belfort and his business partner, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), have their entire beings literally saturated in anything and everything — from a plethora of drugs, alcohol, sex, and most importantly, money. An incredibly inspiring speech in the film, rallying his employees to sell Steve Madden stock or bust, Belfort delivers this profound statement: “I want you to deal with your problems by getting RICH!” At one point, making this broker firm was to make better money to make better lives for themselves, but now it’s about making money to escape from problems — while more money in fact causes even more problems.
The film is a striking look into addiction. It is not a satisfying film to watch by any means, as the film ends with Belfort continuing to profit from his past after a shockingly short prison sentence. He’s addicted to the money, but he’s also addicted to the attention, proven by the ending shot of the film where the camera pans out to the audience who has every ear and every eye focused on his every word.