June 12, 2020

“The Wolf of Wall Street” Review: The Diminishing Stock of Morals

by Danial Cousins

What a smug bastard.
The Wolf of Wall Street is an excellent lesson on the downfalls of excess. Based on a true story, the film features Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) starts a brokerage under the name Stratton Oakmont, selling low cost penny stocks to the rich for way more than they are worth for a 50% commission. The director (Martin Scorsese), and writers Terence Winter (of the screenplay) and Jordan Belfort (of the book the film is based on), show the audience the absurd nature of stockbrokers in this firm, and the ludicrous and unnecessary amount of money each person makes.
The story of Jordan Belfort is one of diminishing morals and self care. At the beginning of the film, Jordan wants to make a lot of money as a stockbroker, but he would prefer to make his clients money as he does it. Jordan also has a wife, whom he cares about, and lives relatively happily with. However, on his first day working in a brokerage, he learns from his senior, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey), that the main goal of brokers is to get money from their client’s pocket into their own. Hanna gives Jordan his first lessons on how to deal with wall street, through drug use, money craving, a lack of morals, and sexual gratification. It is after this when Jordan’s life spirals into corruption.

Though The Wolf of Wall Street is a very informative and eye-opening film, it also happens to be a very entertaining one. The absurd nature of mass amounts of money and narcotics being used by the careless and adolescent stockbrokers at Stratford is incredible for comedic purposes.

There are several hilarious scenes in which Jordan’s main obstacles in getting what he wants happen to be either drug use, or greed. Because of the high stakes mixing with excess and delusion, scenes such as when Jordan drives home to get Donnie (Jonah Hill) off his tapped home phone. This scene in particular is brutally funny, as Jordan and Donnie struggle to communicate because they are effectively paralyzed from excessive abuse of notoriously strong quaaludes. The flashy and massive production of the film provides a glimpse for the audience into the ridiculous lifestyle of Jordan Belfort. When the movie’s funny, it’s really funny.

Partying has its consequences...
The overall message that one should take away from The Wolf of Wall Street is that there are too many people living in excess. It is hard to believe that in the same world as the man renting and destroying an entire Vegas hotel floor for a mere bachelor party, there are others fighting for a viable amount of food to eat. This film displays the pitfalls of immense wealth in bright colors. The saddest part of the film happens to be that there is never shown to be a true resolution, which, frankly, is supportive of its point.

I would highly recommend this film to anyone reading. It was very enjoyable and informative, though, of course taking many required creative liberties even in a “true story.” The film tended to lean more into plain entertainment than drama, and information for the audience, but this certainly aided in its magic. There were several impressive performances, but as an overall piece it was amazing to watch. [Grade: A]

Writer: Terence Winter
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey
Rated: R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence
Available: On Demand
Fun Fact: A large amount of the film was improvised (something Scorsese encourages).

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