I'm going to start this review off with a cautionary warning to people who don't know much about it but are interested in seeing it, if you can't take a 3 hour movie that has lots of graphic nudity (and sex), cussing, and drug use throughout pretty much the entire film, do not go see it. I cannot for the life of me re-iterate how annoyed I was with many of the dramatic walkouts during my screening, it's one thing to leave and hate the movie, it's another to thwart your self righteousness down everybody else trying to watch the film by making a dramatic exit so everybody knows you don't tolerate that kind of filmmaking. If you are feint hearted, can't stand cursing, of a young age, or you don't like vulgar content in movies this is definitely not for you, you are going to hate, and you are going to tarnish the movies reputation as a bold, well-made (yet heavily flawed) work of cinema as well as most likely ruin the experience for all those around you.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a grand, bold, and ambitious installment in Martin Scorsese's resume, however this film will definitely divide audiences drastically for content material and length alone. The entire film is scandalous, debaucherous, and filled with vulgarity to portray the reality of Wall Street and the real life story of Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). There is a whole lot of great things going for this film (literally some masterpiece level material in the movie) but sadly it is muddled down by an excessiveness that may have ended up going a little farther and little longer than actually needed for the themes to ring true.
First off, the performances (while at times going a bit over the top) are extremely well acted, while I do not see an Oscar nomination for actors for the mere fact of how divisive and un-universally friendly the film is, they were certainly Oscar worthy. Leo completely owns the role and is able to keep your attention throughout the movie, his physical comedy is very demanding (especially in one particular "lemon" scene) and he fulfills this. The other standout is actually Jonah Hill in his role, he is absolutely hysterical in his part and has definitely grown as an actor to be reckoned with.
The film is also phenomenally well-written, with Jordan Belfort almost inviting you in throughout the movie, it makes his character utterly despicable yet you just can't help to admire the ambition of the man. What I found odd though was some of the best scenes in the movie were the ones that weren't filled with excessive sex, while some of the scenes were definitely entertaining, that slowly fades to point where you end up getting bored of seeing Belfort bang his 10th hooker an hour and a half into the movie. The scenes could actually start to get a bit exhausting (especially around the 2 hour mark), and while I do understand the artistic point of that (as that's where you start to see Belfort crumble) and how a life of greed, debauchery, and drugs literally is exhausting, I feel like this will miss its point with the majority of the audience who will just take offense because there are tits on the screen (I know this speaks more of the audience than the film, but Scorsese should probably know this). It does help drive home the point though, that no matter how set Belfort got he always went for more, an allegory of America, until he eventually crumbled and lost his empire. It also showed how quickly money and wealth corrupts a man, the early Belfort was almost likable, and that quickly changes as you see him rise in power.
That still begs the question though, did Scorsese go to far with this film, or was all of that excess necessary? It's a tough question to answer, there were definitely points where the film felt to long, and it felt as if you got the point already and wanted the plot to advance, and those feelings are absolutely correct. However, I do feel making the audience exhausted helped to elevate the movie on an artistic standpoint and make the the theme all the more powerful. But then again, what's the point of a theme if half the audience walks out before it can be delivered, and a good portion of the audience that stays doesn't get it because they're to distracted by all the loud excess to notice the quieter, more powerful moments? There were definitely parts of this film that felt excessive and shocking just to be excessive and shocking, and so those that complain do have a solid point (especially given that the film isn't fully justified in the 3 hours it has, it most likely could have been shorter without detracting from the film), but they are also missing the broader scope (and are objectively wrong) when they call this film trash, it is far from trash, but then again far from a masterpiece too.
The Wolf of Wall Street is jam-packed of controversial themes and topics of debauchery, greed, drugs, and sex. While the film at times hits the ball out of the park in the themes delivered (and the performances as well), with some hysterical (yet despicable at the same time) scenes, it also is muddled down by so much excess that it makes these themes easy to miss, and the purpose of the movie missable as well. The Wolf of Wall Street is bold, hilarious, and ambitious, but it sometimes misses its own point that it is trying to make.
7/10 Sticks of Bamboo