Movie review: The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese


Jordan Belfort was a successful founder of a shady stockbrokerage firm. Being a simple guy, he believed in three simple truths – you could call them the holy trinity guiding his existence. One of them said that greed is good – hello Gordon Gecco. The second – that you have to steal your first million dollars  but, if they don’t catch you, you should continue stealing because there can’t possibly be anything wrong with something you are clearly good at. The third and the final truth was that the whole world is a big marketplace and everything and everybody is for sale. Simple, isn’t it? Accordingly, Jordan reinvented himself as a great salesman and a quite disgusting human being. It is the story of his life. Or rather a highly falsified and completely unrepentant story of his life he would like to sell you although it is not worth much. Any buyers? He won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

My impressions:

It is the 21st feature film of Martin Scorsese, a very experienced and intelligent director. It should have been quite a hit. Such a director as Mr. Scorsese should have known by now that there is no  good movie without a good story at its core, a tale that shows you something new, entertains you or teaches you something valuable – preferably all those three at the same time. My problem was that The Wolf of Wall Street did neither for me.

I  wasted as many as three different evenings because I hoped that maybe at the end there would be a tiny little gem, something justifying my effort. Instead  I was given an exhausting three-hour audiovisual bacchanalia, full of sex, orgies, drugs and obscene wealth worship. I grant it,  it was narrated with a flair, mainly by Jordan Belfort himself (Leonardo DiCaprio)  who, unabashedly, tells you about ups and downs of his slimy, unscrupulous career and a quite pointless life. Unfortunately, like any sex or drug addict, he doesn’t have anything fresh, original or groundbreaking to say even though he tries to sell what he has in a really nice box with cupids, dollar signs and a purple bow.

Despite a really invigorated performance of Mr. DiCaprio, who showed his acting prowess especially when pretending to be drugged up to his eyeballs,  I despised everything about his character: wealth, his fellow brokers, prostitutes, scheming, drugs, more prostitutes, more drugs, yachts and even more drugs. Honestly, I suppose the number of scenes during which different characters of this movie snorted cocaine in really industrial quantities, swallowed pills and drink alcohol (drinking being pretty tame, compared to all the rest) set some kind of obnoxious record which could only be matched by the number of casual sex scenes in every possible configuration and every place imaginable. There was even a homosexual orgy, added perhaps as an attempt to atone for the raging misogyny or as a kind of diversification. It failed, on both counts.

Let’s face it: overall women, according to Belfort, exist just to be screwed by men (really, no kinder word fits here) as often as the occasion demands it so pretty damn often. If a woman is not a pretty prostitute she might come in three other flavours: a nagging wife (more often than not a former prostitute, surprise, surprise, sometimes men make mistakes), a servant or a nanny (mostly black, fat and ugly so completely unscrewable, poor thing, imagine that) and, on rare occasions, your colleague (but that fact, of course, doesn’t exclude her from the first and the most important category). However, you get also the feeling that for Belfort making money has always been and will always be the most important activity, like mainlining adrenaline. There’s nothing more important – even a few brushes with death, his imprisonment,  two divorces and rehabs couldn’t change it. That’s why comparing him and his pals to wolves was actually doing a huge disservice to those great animals. I wouldn’t compare those people to slugs which, although slimy and ugly, are far cuter and more useful.

The story of Jordan Belfort’s life, told with the use of a conspiratorial voiceover, illustrated with eclectic, dynamic soundtrack, counts on the fact that, on a very visceral level plenty of viewers sport some appreciation of the reckless, outlaw behaviour and successful get-rich-quick schemes. It might be misread as a celebration of unfettered capitalism in one of its ugliest form but I think it is too insubstantial to be called that – if there was a punch line, it got lost among rubbish. The Wolf of Wall Street was so full of misanthropy, misogyny, naked self-interest and selfishness that it made me, more often than not, sick, in the same way as the violence in Scorsese’s  gangster movies turns sickening after a moment or so.

Oh and one more remark: if you wanted to play one of these cute drinking games, taking just a little sip of beer every time somebody dropped an f-bomb in this movie you would need, I guess about 10 six-packs and approximately 10 longer bathroom breaks before you reached the end – no joking. Enjoy a royal hangover soon afterwards ;p.

Final verdict:

It was one sickening, pointless movie. I wouldn’t watch it for the second time even if I was paid for it, had three hours to kill and a movie theater served cocaine for free…er… I mean coca-cola of course ;p.

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6 Responses to Movie review: The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese

  1. heidenkind says:

    lol I have to confess I have approximately zero interest in watching this. But I probably will because I feel the need to watch Oscar noms.

    • At least you are prepared. I thought it would be something like a contemporary version of Wall Street and let’s face it, the trailer, compared to the movie, is pretty tame. I would call this movie ‘a momentary lapse of reason’ but the problem is that moment lasts three hours. Overall it was pretty taxing.

  2. blodeuedd says:

    Wow asshole alert

  3. red witch says:

    Yeah I don’t get the worshipping of people who indulge in excess behavior. I think it was supposed to be a cautionary tale but it most likely encourages the kind of materialism that fuels this behavior. I saw Jordan Belfort being interviewing on Entertainment Tonight and changed the channel. He looked like such a tool. Maybe a better species to be compared to would be a tapeworm, although the Tapeworm of Wall Street doesn’t sell as well and, at the end of the day, it isn’t about art, it’s about making money. Will give this one a pass.

    • It most definitely wasn’t anything close to a cautionary tale. The movie ends with Jordan Belfort practically doing what he’s always done – selling worthless know-how of his dubious success to a large group of delusional hopefuls. He looks worse for the wear but he regrets nothing.

      Maybe a better species to be compared to would be a tapeworm, although the Tapeworm of Wall Street doesn’t sell as well and, at the end of the day, it isn’t about art, it’s about making money.

      A good suggestion, the tapeworm. I like it 🙂
      I can imagine plenty of people will go and watch this movie just because there are so many drug and sex scenes in it. It’s a feature which I find hardly motivating but I know it works for a certain type of cinema-goer. Still I didn’t expect Scorsese would be making a movie aimed at such an audience. I thought he was above such low tricks.

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