One of the main aspects about “The Wolf of Wall Street” that I loved is that through and through Jordan Belfort is an unapologetic amoral hedonist. When we see him in the opening, right until the final moments of the film, he’s barely apologetic and really misses the days when he swam in money, women, and recreational drugs. Because deep down he felt be earned what he sewed, and right until his downfall, he loves the man he was. Deep down no matter how much he changes, he’s still the same Jordan Belfort, a man who is addicted to satisfying his base pleasures no matter who he hurts.
That’s why director Martin Scorsese’s film struck a chord with audiences positively and negatively. The people he chronicles are people that only care about themselves, and there’s no redemption. There’s no moment of realization, or atoning of any kind. They’re simply a group of hedonistic individuals that truly enjoy satisfying themselves however they can, and they never offer an apology for it. This is made evident especially considering the film is set in the late eighties during Jordan Belfort’s reign, where he and his colleagues could roam around without limitations. Nothing was taboo, and there were zero limitations, thus they had little to no difficulty destroying others if it meant allowing themselves another day in unabashed drug use, sex, and wealth.
Director Scorsese is very intent on displaying the amoral lifestyle that often seemed enticing, even if it did end in truly disturbing circumstances. When we see Belfort, he even dominates the narrative with his ability to break the fourth and brag to the viewer, despite ending up an average man in the final scenes. Regardless of what happens, this is still Jordan’s world, even when the FBI are banging down his doors and seeking to destroy what he built. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an excellent performance as Belfort, the wunderkind with a determination that allows him to defy any sense of limitation to get what he wants. Whether it’s a woman, or his ideal group of stockbrokers, he’s a slimy, sleazy, young man who basks in his decadence, and brings along his friends and trusted confidants for the ride.
Many of whom happen to know what it’s like to deal in slime and sleaze. This becomes evident during the round table where Belfort assembles his group of salesmen that happen to be actual drug dealers, and only ponders what they can offer him. Jonah Hill also offers a quite brilliant performance as Jordan’s co-worker who is enamored with Jordan and seeks to work under him an even emulate much of his own lifestyle, regardless of how impossible a task it may be. Scorsese assembles an amazing ensemble cast in easily one of the most admirably demented and darkly comedic dramas he’s ever created.
Folks like Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau and Jon Bernthal give rousing turns, all the while helping to form Belfort’s world where he was unstoppable, and something of an eighties equivalent to Caligula. It’s not enough to explain that Belfort’s world was centered on endless self gratification, but he stages endless montages of orgies and sexual confrontations that display how these men had it all, and still never truly found a way to satiate their appetite. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a classic tale of the unquenchable thirst of greed, and the remarkably despicable Belfort who will dazzle you even when you find yourself loathing him.