The Wolf Of Wall Street (R18)

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The ViewHamilton Review

Review byMatthew Turner16/01/2014

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 165 mins

Brilliantly directed, beautifully shot and superbly written, this is a riotously entertaining and frequently hilarious drama with an Oscar-worthy central performance from Leonardo DiCaprio.

What's it all about?
Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who got his first job on Wall Street at 21 and was a multi-millionaire less than five years later, balancing insanely long hours with industrial quantities of sex and drugs. After losing his job in the 1987 crash, Jordan starts his own company with weirdo friend Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and soon he's built an empire, making millions persuading wealthy Americans to invest in dodgy companies.

Along the way, Jordan trades in first wife Teresa (Cristin Milioti) for younger model Naomi (Margot Robbie) and stashes mountains of cash in a Swiss bank account with the help of Naomi's British aunt Emma (Joanna Lumley) and morally suspect Swiss banker Jean Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin). However, Jordan's activities eventually come to the attention of FBI agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) and it isn't long before he's poised for a fall.

The Good
DiCaprio is sensational as Belfort, delivering what is possibly his best performance to date: it's such a compelling, magnetic turn that we almost forget what a scumbag Belfort is and start to feel sorry for him. Almost. The supporting cast are on equally good form: Matthew McConaughey steals a handful of early scenes as Belfort's coke-worshipping mentor Mark Hanna, Jonah Hill (also giving a career best performance) is splendidly sleazy as Donnie, Rob Reiner is wonderful as Jordan's angry dad Max and Margot Robbie is terrific as Naomi, more than holding her own against her testosterone-fuelled surroundings in a role that should see her moving on to greater things.

Scorsese (now 72) directs with a sense of energy that would shame any number of younger directors, aided, as ever, by whip-smart editing from Thelma Schoonmaker (74) - essentially, this is a return to the form of Goodfellas, both stylistically and thematically, only with the added topical resonance of the recent banking crisis. Needless to say, it also has a superb soundtrack and is beautifully shot by cinematographer Rodrigo Pieto.

The Great
The film's biggest surprise is that it's also unexpectedly hilarious – a sequence involving a handful of past-their-best Quaaludes (hypnotic sedatives) and a sports car will make you laugh harder than any US comedy of the past year, with DiCaprio revealing a hitherto unsuspected gift for physical comedy that rivals the greats. Other highlights include: an amusingly awkward scene between DiCaprio and Lumley on a London park bench, Donnie's jaw-droppingly obnoxious behaviour both at the office (eating a co-worker's goldfish to make a point) and at parties, and Jordan's petulant first meeting with Agent Denham.

Worth seeing?
Masterfully directed and brilliantly acted, The Wolf of Wall Street is a treat from start to finish and Scorsese's best film since Goodfellas. Unmissable, and one of the best films of the year.

Film Trailer

The Wolf Of Wall Street (R18)
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Content updated: 20/05/2019 19:09

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