MOTW: Why Audiences Do Not Want to Miss "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
February 17th, 2014

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Nothing thrills movie-goers like a good scandal, and "The Wolf of Wall Street" offers that and so much more. In the 1990s, Jordan Belfort uses elaborate schemes to become a successful stockbroker, ultimately attracting more than 250 employees. Living a life of luxury, parties and substance abuse, Belfort discovers that his days are numbered when the FBI is hot on his tracks. Weaving humor, drama, wild antics and questionable morals into an ever-engaging plotline, this 2013 flick has a lot going for it. These five reasons clearly illustrate why "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a stand-out film that audiences do not want to miss.

Storytelling at its Finest

Director Martin Scorcese showcases his finest work in "The Wolf of Wall Street," creating an enthralling picture that is both wild and completely believable. The entire career of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to wealth to his inevitable downfall, is constructed so perfectly that even the crazy antics flooding the film do not distract from the underlying story. From the breaking of the fourth wall to well-written monologues, this film offers a cinematic storytelling experience unlike any other.

Unique cinematic tricks create an even more engaging experience. For instance, scenes surrounding heavy drinking and substance abuse are oddly edited with little sense of continuity while sober scenes are perfectly normal. Director of photography Rodrigo Prieto even used different lenses to depict Belfort's mindset and sense of security during scenes. Although the viewer may not consciously perceive each of these tricks, they work together to construct a film that truly grips audiences and does not let go for a full three hours.

Superior Acting

Although this is a plot-driven film, it leaves plenty of room for actors to shine. Leonardo DiCaprio leads the parade in the starring role of Jordan Belfort, giving what is widely considered the best performance of his career. DiCaprio immerses himself in his role, creating a completely believable character. From experiencing drunken parties to luxurious yacht rides, DiCaprio captures the feeling and essence of every scene in a way that makes audience feel as if they are right there with him. Jonah Hill also gives a great performance as Belfort's fun-loving sidekick Donnie Azoff. Hill brings the perfect touch of over-the-top comedy to the film, but his antics never feel fake or forced. The rest of the cast, including Matthew McConaughey, Margot Robbie and Kyle Chandler, are equally mesmerizing in their performances.

Use of Improvisation

Martin Scorcese allowed for a great deal of improvisation in the film for situations and character interactions to flow more naturally. With this improvisation, the actors shine since they came up with many of their own lines. This also led to some unique situations. For instance, Matthew McConaughey's humming and chest drumming shown in the film is actually part of the actor's pre-filming ritual, and DiCaprio convinced him to incorporate it into the film.

Inspired by True Events

"The Wolf of Wall Street" was inspired by Jordan Belfort's own memoir of the same name. Although audiences may think the director strayed far from the source work in this outlandish film, the script is strikingly similar to Belfort's personal account. Although the movie added a few details, such as the exotic animals, other over-the-top scenes such as the "midget-tossing" competition, the yacht sinking in Italy and the money-laundering in Switzerland are all true. This creates a fun cinematic experience for audiences. It is important to note that most of the film is based on Beflort's account while other sources contradict several of his claims.

Thought-provoking Controversy

Despite the film's premise and eventual downfall of Belfort, the film includes a fair deal of moral ambiguity. At times, it seems to praise the hedonistic lifestyle of immoral stockbrokers, although this is largely done to portray Belfort's thoughts and feelings in those moments. The high level of substance abuse seen in the film, as well as several sexually explicit scenes, is both shocking and disturbing, provoking thought and discussion well after the closing credits begin to roll. Although this may steer some viewers away, the controversial scenes and thematic elements provide plenty of food for thought and room for debate. This makes it a worthwhile film for audiences who crave more than a forgettable, run-of-the-mill flick.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" offers the perfect blend of crime, humor and fun, creating a movie-watching experience unlike any other. Although the story and portrayal may turn off more conservative audiences, none can doubt that the film itself is a cinematic masterpiece.