Yesterday I finally had the pleasure of watching The Wolf Of Wall Street, based on true events and directed/produced by Martin Scorsese.
After losing his job as a stockbroker at a Wall Street firm, Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Belfort makes a small fortune. He befriends a man named Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), and the two decide to found their own company. They recruit Belfort’s accountant parents as well as several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the hard sell. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Belfort gives the firm the respectable name of “Stratton Oakmont”. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company.
Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle of prostitutes and drugs. Jordan has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie). He divorces his wife Teresa and marries Naomi, and soon they have a daughter, Skylar. Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont.
Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden, Ltd. To hide his illegitimate money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel (Jean Dujardin) in the name of Naomi’s aunt Emma (Joanna Lumley), who is a British citizen and outside the reach of American authorities. He uses friends with European passports to smuggle cash to Switzerland.
Donnie gets into a public fight with Brad Bodnick (Jon Bernthal), one of their money couriers, and Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father pressures him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lay low. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit.
Jordan, Donnie and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Over the objections of his grieving wife and his yacht captain, Jordan decides to sail to Monaco so they can drive to Switzerland without getting their passports stamped at the border and settle the bank account, but a violent storm capsizes their yacht. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed by a seagull flying into the engine. Jordan considers this a sign from God and decides to sober up.
Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan during the filming of an infomercial. Saurel, arrested in Florida over an unrelated charge, has told the FBI everything. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency.
Disgusted with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she will divorce him and wants full custody of their daughter and their unborn child. Jordan throws a tantrum, gets high, and ends up crashing his car in his driveway during an attempt to abscond with their daughter.
The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work. Jordan silently slips Donnie a note warning him about the wire. The FBI discovers the note, and Jordan is arrested for breaching his cooperation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont.
Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and is sentenced to 36 months in a minimum security prison in Nevada. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.
It was a very entertaining film, with plenty of moments that were both interesting and comical. The plot ensured that I stayed firmly on the edge of my seat, and the acting by everyone involved was truly brilliant. There were some great cameos and superb performances, but Leonardo di Caprio really did stand out as the star of the show. It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
Thanks for reading.