Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review and Analysis of "The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)"

"There is no nobility in poverty"

                                                                              -Jordan Belfort

One of the best directors ever to hit the silver screen has been Martin Scorsese who has enthralled us with visionary stories related to themes of money, greed, corruption and downfall. He has made a considerable number of films with veterans in the field of acting, most particularly the great Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci and many others. One of his recent collaborations in the decade has been with the actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Its this strange chemistry involved between this director and actor through which they have given us some of the best movies ever by working together. It feels as though both are never complete without each other unless we see them collaborating together. I have been a big time fan of Scorsese and seeing another one of his works again after 2010 was a good comeback. Scorsese gets back to his base roots again with "The Wolf Of Wall Street". Let's find out whether this stock is undervalued or overvalued.
The film follows the true story of Jordan Belfort(Leonardo DiCaprio), who starts his career as a stockbroker in L.F. Rothschild. Due to one of the biggest stock market crashes on a 1987 of Monday, known as "Black Monday", the company shuts down and he is left unemployed. Due to his interest in the stock market, he desperately looks for a job as a broker even though the scope of getting a broker career is down. He hits upon a newspaper article through which he gets to know about a type of business flourishing in the stock market known as a "Boiler Room" in which penny stocks were sold to investors through "pump and dump schemes" by giving them false representations and facts so that fraudulent sales can be committed earning the runners a commission of about 50%. Having been mentored by one of his former senior employees about always getting the money in your pocket instead of his client's he becomes quickly engrossed in the idea and due to his excellent selling skills earned by working in Rothschild starts taking his illegal business to a whole new level by recruiting some of his friends, most notably Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). He forms his own company by the name of Stratton Oakmont, Inc. through which he starts to sell penny stocks to rich people and starts to earn tremendous amounts through market manipulation. The rest of the story involves around him and Donnie becoming involved in drugs, money and adultery to the point of addiction and insanity and his subsequent incrimination and arrest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

    "I have been a rich man and I have been  a poor man"

Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his time and he definitely gave a terrific, yet at the same time, maniacal, funny and insane performance. Its very hard for actors to portray all three of them at the same time. I can guarantee that some of the explicit scenes which he performs as the character of Jordan Belfort in his private life as well as his office will be disturbing to most viewers due to the authenticity involved which reflected his lavish lifestyle. I won't spoil any of them for you because they are that complex. The film was purposely made in a black comedy style so that the scenes and circumstances of the characters could entertain the audience and not to disturb them and Scorsese does a great job at it. Some of the scenes are ridiculously funny and done over the top, most particularly the scenes involving Jonah Hill and DiCaprio having conversations. We get to see the character of Jordan, from a curious hardworking money earner who wants to get a taste of luxury like all of us, transforming into a greedy, selfish, obsessed person who slowly starts to break to the point of insanity due to the amount of drugs in his nervous system. Black comedy does it all, his insanity and addiction are depicted in such a funny manner that you won't be able to stop yourself from moments of convulsions. One of the most memorable sequences is the car crawling scene, you'll have to see it to believe it. Another great performance was given by Jonah Hill as Donnie who is at the same level as Belfort when it comes to over the top moments and conversations. The insanity of Belfort is both motivational and disturbing as we see how his office colleagues worship him and follow him as a cult status leader. In the future, I always wondered whether a new religion could have been established by Stratton Oakmont by Belfort himself where the people may have started to worship him as a God. That's the height of greed and that's the power of power which was done superbly by DiCaprio himself. At one point, I started to compare his performance to Al Pacino in "Scarface" and Jack Nicholson in "The Shining".
                                                                           "I know what you did"

The film also starts to get interesting when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the FBI start to tap into the investigation against the company lead by Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) who also gives a good performance of a dedicated agent trying to bring Belfort down. The scenes with him and Belfort are executed well, most notably, the "friendly conversation" which takes place on the yacht, Naomi. During the end when you see him raid his office arresting everyone you can feel a sense of accomplishment as well as ruffle because you know its the downfall of a maniac whose performance you loved during the whole film. He plays the silent agent, who doesn't appear in the film until halfway yet leaves a memorable impact as a person who speaks less but does everything with a bang.
Now, we come to the one of the biggest controversies involved with this film- explicit scenes of adultery and vulgarity. Within the first few minutes, you'll know that this is not a movie to be viewed with kids. The movie was banned in some countries mostly due to these reasons solely. What I feel that even though Scorsese was trying to show the impact to too much drugs and money on human morality and commendably did a bold job at displaying it, some of the scenes could have been cut down or removed not due to the reason that its not contributing anything to the film, but due to the fact that some of the audience could have been easily disturbed by it (and they were). Its like a bitter medicine, where its necessary to see it to experience the "ugly" side of the american dream but you have to have a strong stomach to digest it after you have seen it. That's where I felt the film should have brought a proper balance. There are many movies which have done that while showing corruption and greed, including Scorsese's own "Goodfellas". That was the only flaw I found with this movie.
                                                                       "You're going to jail"

Overall, I found it to be a great film with big moments of black humor crafted wonderfully as Scorsese does. The pacing and storytelling is excellent and the soundtrack is a reminiscent to the 80's culture. I loved the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill and hoping to see him and Scorsese get back together on another project soon. If you have even a bleak interest in stock market and want to see one of the oldest frauds which took place on Wall Street during the 80's era after Black Monday, or if you are interested in one of the memorable crimes which took place in the United States of America, go for it.

P.S.- DiCaprio fans will not be disappointed, this is one of his best performances till date.

My rating-80%


  1. Really helpful reviews in order to make right choice for the right stuff for the weekends....
    Keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks a lot man :) really appreciate your feedback. Will definitely keep it up.