“The Wolf of Wall Street”-From Rags to Riches and Back Again

One of the most talked about films right now is “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Directed by film veteran Martin Scorsese, written by Terence Winter (known for ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ ) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, “Wolf” had the foundation to be a great film.

If you’ve ever seen other Scorsese films such as “Goodfellas,” “The Departed” or “Casino”; you’ll notice Scorsese’s style almost immediately. “Wolf” is fast paced and in your face. So much happens so quickly, you’ll hardly realize the film is about three hours long.

“Wolf” is the true story of Jordan Belfort (who also wrote a biography of which the film is based), a man who works hard to become wealthy. And, boy, does he! Of course, he doesn’t quite do it legally. As a stockbroker, he cheats his clients (both rich and poor) to make a hefty commission and live a flashy lifestyle.  Like most stories of this nature, the fun eventually ends. After years of swindling, the FBI catches on and eventually takes him down.

Winter’s adaptation of Jordan’s tale and Scorsese’s directing is superb and they compiled a slew of top notch actors to pull of such extraordinary characters. Although many critics and viewers have deemed “Wolf” one of the best films of 2013 and Oscar worthy, many have also said its contents are barely in the confines of an R rating.

To not showcase the ridiculous lifestyle of Belfort and his cohorts/co-workers would be misleading, so it’s understandable that much of the film portrays his lascivious, irresponsible, sometimes even, disturbing lifestyle. However, some scenes may be downright uncomfortable, even for the most unshakable movie goer.

Wolf of Wall Street 2With that said, the movie deserves the praise it is receiving. Jonah Hill’s performance is particularly intriguing. We’ve seen DiCaprio in roles like that of Belfort–a greedy, dangerously motivated man–in films like “The Great Gatsby,” “Django Unchained,” and “Catch Me If  You Can.” None of these characters are, perhaps, as lewd as his role in “Wolf,” but DiCaprio definitely understands the essence of a man such as Belfort. Jonah Hill, on the other hand, hasn’t portrayed a character like his in ‘Wolf,’ which is that of Donnie Azoff. Donnie begins working for Belfort after a random encounter at a diner, in which Donnie rudely asks Belfort how much he makes. After discovering Belfort’s inflated income, he immediately quits his job and becomes Belfort’s right hand man.

All dressed up in 80s garb, Hill takes on a very comical appearance. Many of his scenes in the film are the funniest but Hill’s character is also a very sad man, like most of the men portrayed in ‘Wolf.’ Although used as comic relief, Hill proves his ability to expand on his talents as an actor, not just his comedic chops.

“Wolf” is intriguing because it is a true story but the socio-economic statement Scorsese makes in the film is what gives it depth. About making the film, Scorsese told the L.A. Times, “When I was growing up, I don’t remember being told that America was created so that everyone could get rich. I remember being told it was about opportunity and the pursuit of happiness. Not happiness itself, but the pursuit. In the past 35 years the value has become rich at all costs.”