Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

Review: With Sex And Drugs Galore, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ Is Martin Scorsese’s Craziest Movie

Photo of Eric Kohn By Eric Kohn | Indiewire December 17, 2013 at 10:59AM

A brazen three-hour cinematic bender of sex and drugs set to the tune of financial chaos, Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is undoubtedly the craziest movie of his career.
21
The Wolf Of Wall Street

Yet while "The Wolf of Wall Street" is sometimes hard to take and unapologetically erratic, Scorsese and Winter capably establish how things got that way. The details of their story draws on more real incidents than meets the eye -- including bullying office tactics that included the devouring of a negligent employee's goldfish, as well party guests that included costumed little people and at least one monkey. Kinky prostitutes and cocaine fly freely. The orgiastic display makes Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" look downright minimalist.

Many of these incidents stem from Belford's actual account of his antics, which kicked into high gear in his twenties after he launched the Long Island-based "boiler room" firm Stratton Oakmont. Concocting a scheme to drive up the price of shares with specious hype and then cashing in on them, Belfort and his cohort Danny Porush -- played by Hill under the fictionalized name Donny Azoff -- pulled in upwards of $200 millions for their "pump and dump" scheme before landing jail time in the middle of the decade. Flashing back to the initially overwhelmed young Belfort during his first Wall Street gig, the movie quickly lays out his rapid transition into a capitalist psychopath. "Money doesn't just buy you a better life," he asserts. "It makes you a better person." The irony of that statement is it arrives as we witness its opposite effect.

In fact, "The Wolf of Wall Street" lays out the equation of corruption almost too neatly, with Belfort getting schooled in the ways of his new profession from a chest-thumping Matthew McConaughey as one of his earlier office mentors. In a fleeting but crucial cameo, McConaughey lays out the rules of succeeding in the profession -- a zany laundry list that includes various narcotics and sexual dealings -- which is more than enough to set Belfort off and running.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

After the devastating Black Monday crash of 1987, Belfort manages to funnel his lessons from the bottom of the totem pole to climb straight to the top. Before long, he's surrounded by a new wife, fresh digs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in escort charges. Largely restricted to Belfort's point of view (even, most memorably, when he's under the influence), "The Wolf of Wall Street" lurches forward as its plot details remain fairly minimal. Only when the FBI grows curious about his scheme does Belfort turn to a similarly cunning Swiss bank accountant (Jean Dujardin, his eyebrow cocked and half-grin frozen) in an attempt to save his riches. While not a fully defined presence, Dujardin gets a chance to match wits with DiCaprio in another amusingly over-the-top scene in which the two men communicate telepathically about their scummy motives.

The Wolf Of Wall Street

And that's just one of several moments where "The Wolf of Wall Street" sets story aside for the sake of letting the actors play. The women are naturally short-shrifted, although Margot Robbie lands some snappy moments as Belfort's sultry wife. Virtually everyone onscreen in "The Wolf of Wall Street" gets a chance to mess around (even Spike Jonze crops up for a fun cameo), but the cast's true secret weapon in Jonah Hill. As the wacky, flamboyant Donny, Hill's most accomplished performance to date exists on an entirely different plane from anything he's done before. His hyperactive presence is the ideal comic side dish to DiCaprio's embodiment of a more subdued sociopath.

While DiCaprio never really vanishes into the role, it's still impressive to watch him swing for the fences. Outdoing his turn as Jay Gatsby, he uses his movie-star persona in service of making the character's superficial addictions come to life. It's a starry performance of a guy who believes so thoroughly in his power that he forces it into reality at every moment. When we watch Belfort pantomime sex while courting a client on speaker phone, it's easy to get wrapped up in the slapstick amusement of his commitment to the performance.

This article is related to: Reviews, The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Paramount, Awards Season Roundup, Awards, Comedy-Drama, Financing, Wall Street, Jordan Belfort






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More