film reviews

The Wolf of Wall Street: Or, The Story of a Terrible Rich White Dude

I’ve finally seen The Wolf of Wall Street. It is one of the craziest films I’ve seen lately, but only in terms of American movies. (I’ve seen even crazier French films, but I’ll delve into that later, in a different post.)

Whenever I’m referring to Jordan Belfort in this post, I’m strictly talking about Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hollywood portrayal of the real Belfort. 

Wolf sets the tone for the vast majority of the movie within the first 20 minutes: a white guy–aka Jordan Belfort–becomes extremely rich by cheating other people. This is a story we’ve all heard and seen before, it’s truthfully not anything to write home about.

But, what grabbed me as a viewer was how crazy Belfort’s life seemed: he was able to take gargantuan amounts of drugs, drink like a fish, and have unprotected sex all without anything too terrible happening to him. This goes on for quite some time, several years, in fact. His life does fall apart, but that’s much later in the movie.

I was also stunned by how common it was for Belfort and his buddies at the office to have extravagant homes, or at the very least, extravagant lifestyles. It was clear to me by the first half hour of the film–which has a running time of close to three hours–that the character Belfort only seemed to care about making money and having a good time.  He is a terrible, selfish person.

The most memorable scene in Wolf, for me, shows Belfort’s love for taking “recreational” drugs. With one of his friends from the office, he pops a Lemmon 714. (It’s pretty scary stuff from what Wikipedia told me.) Concluding that he can’t feel anything, he and his friend decide to take more of the pills in order to hopefully get high. It’s only after 90 minutes that the powerful drug kicks in, and during an intense phone conversation. Belfort, realizing he needs to get home immediately in order to stop his friend from talking on the phone, crawls out the door he walked into not ten minutes before. He drives himself home, somehow without a scratch. After some insanity at his house–one part involving performing mouth-to-mouth on his friend to stop him from choking to death–the viewer comes to find out that he pretty much totaled his Mercedes the night while driving home high.

This film is rated R for a reason. There’s lots of swearing, frontal nudity, and drug use. If you’re uncomfortable with any of this, don’t watch it. But if you’re at all interested, The Wolf of Wall Street can be streamed on Netflix.

While Wolf solidifies the clichés money doesn’t bring you happiness and don’t do drugs, I feel that this particular film is more for shock rather than an actual teaching lesson. For that, I’d argue that the film version of Requiem for a Dream does it right. (Again, another post for another day.)

Here’s a great article that I found from Slate.com if you’d like to know about the accuracy of the film: How Accurate is The Wolf of Wall Street?

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