‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ might just be the best movie of the year
I always find it difficult to review a movie I love. It’s easy to tear a bad movie to shreds, but it’s much harder to praise a great movie without sounding like you’re gushing. That goes tenfold for a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, since he is arguably the most talented actor of his generation. I’m just going to go ahead and warn you now, this review will contain a lot of gushing about just how wonderful The Wolf of Wall Street is, because it’s one of the best movies of the year.
DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort, a real-life young, wealthy playboy who makes his fortune with not-so-legal stock trades. He begins as an ambitious guy, naive to the shady dealings of Wall Street, until he is taken under the wing of Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey, who teaches him the art of persuasion, and that it’s okay to bend the truth when trying to land a client. After losing his job in the big leagues, Jordan applies these skills to scamming clients on penny stocks, impressing all his co-workers with his charisma and bullshitting abilities. While having lunch, he meets Donny Azof (Jonah Hill), based on Stratton Oakmont co-founder Danny Porush, who is so impressed by Jordan that he quits his job to form a new company with him.
Because of their ability to deceive and their complete lack of ethics, the guys are able to grow the company into a Wall Street powerhouse. Cash is flowing like a river, everyone’s popping Qualudes like they’re Skittles, there’s an endless supply of hooker and coke, and life becomes the very picture of hedonism. Jordan gets what he wants and never has to face any consequences. He’ll steal your hot girlfriend (Margot Robbie) he’ll crash his helicopter, he’ll drive completely drugged out of his mind, and he’ll even taunt federal agents (Kyle Chandler) who try to investigate him. Even when his life is at it’s most insane, he never has to face any repercussions for his Caligula-level excess.
But, of course, you can’t live your life at eleven forever, and eventually the feds start to catch up to him, unraveling the mystery of his sketchy activities. What makes the film so beautiful is that Jordan spirals out of control from such a stratospheric level that he doesn’t even know rock bottom exists until is smacks him right in the face.
Nobody could pull off the subtleties and over-the-top elements of Jordan’s life like DiCaprio. I truly believe he’s the best actor around. Sure, you can throw Daniel Day-Lewis out there, you can make an argument for Al Pacino, but I will block that shit like Dikembe Mutombo. Leo is the greatest in the world for me—and I want to establish that it’s not because he’s stunningly handsome and can wear the hell out of a suit. Looks aren’t even a factor when you’re this talented.
This film proves that he is also fearless. Originally earning an NC-17, The Wolf of Wall Street has some very explicit sex scenes, including one involving a bare-assed DiCaprio, a dominatrix, and a lit candle going somewhere besides a candelabra. It’s shocking at first to see Mr. A-List in these…positions…but director Martin Scorsese has a knack for drawing out the best in his actors, and his everlasting partnership with DiCaprio always generates magic.
I could write a freaking thesis on why DiCaprio is phenomenal in everything, but any review for this movie should also include mad props for Hill, who proves once again that he’s got serious acting chops. There seems to be some kind of formula where he’s paired up with an incredibly gorgeous guy (like Brad Pitt in Moneyball) and he elevates the entire movie. He had great chemistry with DiCaprio here, and it made both characters feel three dimensional and real, despite the almost cartoonish level of extravagance these guys partook in.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a serious contender for my favorite film of the year. I found myself leaving the theater thinking, “Leonardo DiCaprio, you magnificent bastard! Your talent has blown me away once again!” This film is a must-see. For everyone. No caveats, no specifications. Don’t wait until it wins a zillion awards to go see it.