Sunday, March 9, 2014

Movie Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Genre: black comedy
Director: Martin Scorsese
Rating: ** (2.5 out of 5)

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir of the same name. Founder of brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, Belfort was convicted of securities fraud and money-laundering in 1998. The snake oil salesman spent two years in prison and is now an author and motivational speaker.

The Wolf of Wall Street by Martin Scorsese

Perhaps because I work in the securities industry, I find the film clichéd and only mildly entertaining. Running nearly three hours, it assaults the audience with scene after repetitive scene of men throwing wads of cash in the air and having group sex with hookers. Remember Wall Street, American Psycho, Working Girl and Barbarians at the Gate? Been there, seen that. I wish I had a fast forward button.

Scorsese also makes a caricature of the financial industry. The film is the way people on Main Street think of people on Wall Street. Overall, it feels like an opportunistic attempt by the studio to capitalize on the anti-banker sentiment of late with an in-your-face satire about high-rolling stockbrokers. Curiously enough, however, Scorsese ends up glorifying Wall Street excesses rather than condemning them. In the film, Belfort is a con artist who takes good care of his people and refuses to rat them out to the FBI. Love him or hate him – it appears that the director can't mind up his mind.

Hill is willing do anything

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the anti-hero, a Jay Gatsby who snorts cocaine and uses the f-word in every sentence. This Jordan Belfort wears the same tailored suits, throws the same lavish parties and lives in the same Long Island mansion as Gatsby does. Despite the passion he pours into his character, DiCaprio is upstaged by Jonah Hill, who delivers a more memorable performance as Belfort’s sidekick Donnie Azoff. Hill gives the role his all: he overdoses on expired drugs, chokes on cold cuts, masturbates in public and even swallows a goldfish whole.

Fans of Scorsese or DiCaprio will disagree with my review. But there is one thing on which we can all agree: the real life Jordan Belfort is a consummate salesman with an ability to sell just about anything. Before he went to jail, he made millions hawking penny stocks to mom and pop investors. After he got out, he made millions selling his memoir to Paramount Pictures, which in turn helps him sell more books. The movie tie-in edition has been a New York Times bestseller for months. So what's his secret? Order his 10-module motivational videos at for one easy payment of US$1,997. 

Raking it in, once again


  1. Leonardo DiCaprio is brilliant in this role worthy of Oscar consideration. This film is filthy but a whole lot of fun. Easily one of the best films of 2013.

  2. Although Martin Scorsese overindulges as much as his subject, this film proves in the cinematic jungle he's still the king.

    Plenty of Fish Reviews