At the ripe age of twenty-five Jordan Belfort moved to New York to pursue the fortune that suited his aspiration. Hired by a prominent Wall Street brokerage firm, Belfort soon loses his job on the infamous Black Monday as his new employer tanks. Recovering quickly he finds a job out on Long Island selling penny stocks – businesses that aren’t big enough to be listed on the NASDAQ and trade for only a couple cents a share. Jordan soon becomes an expert at stuffing bad deals down the gullible throats of the average working class person who’s just trying to get rich quick. After meeting the wheezy Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) at a diner one morning and befriending him, the two rent out an old garage and start their own brokerage firm.
For the next several chapters of the film we watch on as Belfort and his partners descend into further circles of decadent self-gratification. Only three days after his divorce is finalized, Jordan has his beautiful new girlfriend Naomi (Margot Robbie) move into his new Manhattan penthouse with him. As Stratton Oakmont’s parties begin to grow out of hand, with sex and drugs rampant, the authorities begin to close in on Jordan from all sides. The FBI and Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) begin tracking him, and the Securities and Exchange Commission start poking around his offices. Belfort is forced to launder his money and hide it in a Swiss bank account with Jean Dujardin playing the corrupt Geneva banker holding his fortunes.
What may shock some is that The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort’s fortunes and crimes of the 1990s. His brutally honest memoir, which the film is based on, recount his years of drug abuse, sex, and greed with detail and have been laid out with minor changes in this film. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the depraved years of Belfort’s life with an electric performance that both entices us with his natural charm and disgusts us with the shock of his actions. As the film progresses, Belfort descends to new levels and we begin to fear not only for his own safety but also for that of those around him.
Embedded in The Wolf of Wall Street are many scenes of hilarity, over-indulgence to rival that of Roman emperors, and a deeper tragedy. Through its laughs and raunchiness the film makes a scary commentary on contemporary America that feels extremely relevant to the consumer excess and materialistic hedonism of the popular media. Working from Terrence Winter’s bold and ballsy script, Martin Scorsese has crafted one of the most enjoyable and boundary-pushing films in years. His fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio commands whirlwind performances from all it’s cast, and may be one of their best films together. Ultimately, this is a film about the high-speed hedonistic lifestyle of Wall Street power brokers in the early ‘90s, and about addiction in all forms; from sex to drugs, with the most alluring and powerful pull being that hunger for the almighty dollar.