The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Cristin Milioti, and P.J. Byrne
Directed by Martin Scorsese
While the overarching theme of the film is about the stock market and that aforementioned duping of the public by Belfort, Scorsese and screenwriter Terrence Winter wisely push that aside instead focusing on the wildly outrageous shenanigans of the rich Belfort (played by DiCaprio) and his cohorts as they spend their (well-earned or illegally earned?) dough on quaaludes, cocaine, prostitutes, yachts, extravagant homes, jewelry, flying dwarfs...I could go on and on. Seeing the world of excess is admittedly at first a little exciting, but we all know that it's too good to be true. This fantastical world is ripe for a breakdown and that certainly is the case here with Belfort's fall just as engrossing as his rise up the corporate ladder.
Front and center in nearly every scene of the movie is Leonardo DiCaprio, a guy who I've certainly come to appreciate in recent years for his acting prowess. However, I've never seen him take on a role with such gusto and joie de vivre as he does here with Jordan Belfort. With the perfect amount of sly charm, self absorption, self-confidence, financial smarts, and sex appeal, DiCaprio gives a performance that is loose, funny, and captivating.
While DiCaprio's Belfort certainly takes center stage, he isn't alone in shining onscreen. Jonah Hill is quite good as a Long Island nobody whom Belfort grooms into his right hand man. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous Margot Robbie plays Belfort's second wife and she's a stunning newcomer I can't wait to see more of in the future. Additionally, Matthew McConaughey makes the most out of a mere ten minute scene as Belfort's first teacher in the stock trade. He steals the show right off the bat (which DiCaprio then steals back from him) and sets the movie on a great path right from the outset.
All this praise I'm heaping on the film makes it seem as if this one's ripe for an "A" rating. Well, that's not going to happen and the reason harkens back to that aforementioned running time. This thing moves along at a fast clip for its first hour and its last hour takes us on a bit of a different journey with Belfort's world beginning to crumble, but that middle hour leaves a bit to be desired. We've already borne witness to the hedonistic tendencies of Belfort and his crew and this middle act teeters on actually becoming a bit boring -- there's only so much coke snorting you can take. Perhaps Scorsese was mirroring the excessive nature of Belfort with the excessive running time, but a trimming of maybe thirty minutes would've put this one right in the running for a top three spot of the year for me. As it stands now, it's a very good film that could've been near perfect, buoyed by the best performance I've seen in 2013 in Mr. DiCaprio.
The RyMickey Rating: B+