It isn’t a pretty life.
The glitz and glamour of all the fast cars, beautiful women and copious amounts of money doesn’t make up for the lives hurt and debts caused. But what The Wolf of Wall Street does is dance along the fine line of glamorizing this lifestyle but not completely condoning it.
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the wolf, a Wall Street stockbroker who scammed people by selling penny stocks, which led to him and his associates making more money than they knew what to do with.
The film is definitely an acquired taste and one of director Martin Scorsese’s most ambitious and crazy efforts to date. With f-bombs flying left and right, drugs filling the air around the characters and nudity from every corner, the film plays as a window into this almost hidden world of Wall Street, where people throw around money like old food and this frat culture from college moves to the professional scale.
That isn’t to say it doesn’t look fun. Thanks to crazy performances by DiCaprio, Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey, the entire film feels like you are taking the drugs with the characters. These larger-than-life personas help to show that — while it looks like a load of fun — it isn’t all real.
At a running time of three hours, the film about excess is pretty excessive. But it doesn’t feel like you have just given up three hours of your day (I first checked my clock at two hours in) because of all the things being slung at you. The lines, the crazy stunts and the stupid stuff these people are doing with their money makes the whole experience a blast.
While you want to like Leo, it is hard not to hate this guy who scams a lot of people, even if it is still the same charming Leo. But you can’t really like them, especially when they are doing all this. After awhile, you begin rooting against these people and want to see them fall and see how badly the fall will come, and that payoff is worth it.
These are bad people doing bad things and coming away from this going, “That looks fun. Maybe I should try it,” is the wrong idea. But with a likable cast and a legendary director at the helm, you can’t help but enjoy the majority of it.
The Wolf of Wall Street is one that isn’t for everyone but an important film that shows how powerful film can be at giving us a mirror to society.
Zach Dennis is a student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and is a Journalism and Electronic Media major with a Cinema Studies minor. He is from Chattanooga. Follow him on Twitter @zdennis.