A woman’s naked backside sits curled in the air. He hovers above, eyes focused on the meat bellow. He sprinkles a little powder in her ravine and then snorts the blow right from her bunghole straight into his brain.
And that is the foreshadowing image that sets up the sex, the drugs, the self-important grandeur and psychological torrent that is Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio), the wolf of Wall Street.
Directed by the Oscar-winning and highly revered Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is 180 minutes of fingers, mouths and shaved kitties soaked in booze, cocaine and Quaaludes and is based on the life and book of the main character.
Belfort begins as they usually do: moral, married and mentored by a man who has already shed those idealisms about the pursuit of money. To get rich you must exploit the addictions of others and to survive the pursuit of wealth you must mix your greed with equal parts cocaine, testosterone and carnal play.
What throws this well-meaning junior broker into the whirlwind that becomes the defining characteristic of his existence is the “Black Monday” stock market crash of October 19. This forces Belfort to make hard choices for the financial security of his family.
Success in the pink ticket penny stocks leads him to Stratton Oakmont, the company that he raises to heights before unknown and that becomes the home of his wolf pit.
The protagonist narrates through the rise and fall, the overindulgence and the viewer doesn’t miss a beat. Though the movie runs at three hours, not one minute is felt. Some of the images are shocking and even sad, knowing a man delivered himself over so completely for something he could not control.
For money, access and perceived power he gave up his self-control. As the stakes grow higher, his cravings grow deeper. There is never enough.
On the other side of wolfish appetites are anxieties. It appears, always, as if the drug use is for fun and satisfaction, but that is the lie told by all the pretty lights. Belfort knows he’s sedating himself through the rollercoaster ride. And what a wicked ride it is.
He is a man who is more than just the want of wealth. He is a hard worker, master motivator, teacher, a dreamer and man filled with compassion. Yet, he is also a fool.
From being a graduate with a family to being an FBI indicted two-time divorcee, Belfort’s journey is laid bare in a fleshy, faded totem to the darkness waiting on just the other side of the music.
Belfort is the best character ever attempted by DiCaprio. It is here that we see the actor’s charm. Never has he travelled so far to the edges of a character and he holds nothing back. He is laugh out loud funny, sentimental and sympathetic -- though he is a wolf and shepherd, leading others into the snare.
We root for him and his pack. We hope they end the assault on their own lives, yet get to keep what they’ve made. They are pretty fun after all.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” is hilarious and outrageous. It is well shot with memorable and artistic cross fades. The cast is rounded by Jonah Hill, P.J. Byrne, Kyle Chandler, and even Rob Reiner with a visit from Matthew McConaughey. That alone makes it worth the price.
Jon Bernthal, one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars, takes a turn as Brad, an unluckier accomplice in the scandal. His work is masterful and noteworthy.
The movie is a sensation in its creative talent and in flaunting the veracity behind Wall Street, yes, but ultimately this picture exposes the abyss that is the pursuit of wealth.
Beware the wolf of Wall Street.