Certificate 18, 180 minutes
Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
The Wolf of Wall Street opens with a commercial for Stratton Oakmont Inc., the company that Leonardo DiCaprio's (The Great Gatsby) character, Jordan Belfort, runs, before going to a scene where the company's brokers are throwing a little person at a giant Velcro dart board. Belfort is making a lot of money, owning a yacht, cars and multiple houses and he has a beautiful wife, Naomi (Margot Robbie, Focus) as well as children at this point. He also has a tendency to indulge far too much in hookers and has a pretty serious drug habit. Much of the information divulged during the film is from DiCaprio's character talking directly to the camera and, therefore, to the audience. He also sometimes narrates over segments as well.
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:WallStreet2013poster.jpgThe story then goes back to how he got to this point, and it only has to go back a few years, before returning to the present. When Belfort started, he wanted to make a lot of money, and so he went to work on Wall Street. He is at this time pretty clean cut - married (to a different wife), doesn't drink or take drugs. When he initially starts work he is told the facts of life as a stockbroker by Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar) - that the industry runs on cocaine and hookers and that the objective isn't to make their clients money, it's to get them to buy and sell stocks, therefore creating a commission for the broker. Whether the client makes money or not is pretty irrelevant, and if they do make money and want to cash out, they should be encouraged to reinvest their profit, earning the broker another commission.
Belfort finally gets his stockbroker's license on October 17th, 1987, a day also known as "Black Monday" when the world stockmarket's dropped hugely, as a consequence of which the firm he was working for, L.F. Rothschild, goes under, leaving him without a job. Desperate to start work again, he answers an ad in the paper and starts selling penny stocks from the Pink Sheets which have a huge range and a huge commission percentage for the broker - a borderline illegal (and sometimes over the border) operation that is morally dubious at best and very risky for any potential investors. Belfort proves to have a natural talent for this, making tens of thousands of dollars per month. When he tells Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), the latter quits his job and comes to work for Belfort. Belfort then recruits more brokers - basically, people he knows who can sell anything.
They start out selling the penny stocks to smaller investors, before realising that the rich - or, at least, the high income earners - have more money, although this requires a different approach. They then progress to marketing their dubious stock recommendations to the top 1% of income earners and rebrand as Stratton Oakmont, Inc. The company has some pretty dubious high pressure strategies for selling the stocks, as well as doing a number of things that are outright illegal, as well as holding regular debauched parties at their offices. Meanwhile, constantly running in the background, is an FBI investigation being run by Agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler, Super 8).
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The film is based on the book of the same name by Jordan Belfort - yes, this is based on a true story - although many of the names are changed. There is a lot of very strong language in The Wolf of Wall Street as well as an awful lot of nudity and drug use. It certainly isn't recommended if you are easily offended, or even not that easily. There's quite a lot of humour, if of a dark nature, in the film, and Belfort comes across as a bit of an idiot, if an idiot who is really good at selling, at more than one point during the story. His portrayal, and the portrayal of some of his colleagues, is probably a bit flattering for someone who cost a lot of people a lot of money, and who still hasn't paid it back. This may be a long film, but it never seems to be like it is dragging, or that it has been padded out. The Wolf of Wall Street is a decently done film, with some good performances, especially by DiCaprio, but what lets it down is it being based on a true story and the rather too flattering depiction of Jordan Belfer.