The Wolf of Wall Street

The latest Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio project, The Wolf of Wall Street, is a whirling howl of a movie about insider trading and money laundering during the lustful Clinton era. DiCaprio, whose highly profitable association with directorial giant Scorsese dates back to 2002's Gangs of New York, plays real-life Wall Street bad boy Jordan Belfort, whose biography is the source material for Terence Winter's screenplay. Belfort -- addicted to coke, coitus and cash -- starts a small investment firm in the early '90s that scams its clients but enriches the brokers -- a principle laid out in a marvelous scene between DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey early in the film. In short time, the modest firm of a half-dozen serial losers turns into a trading behemoth that is run like a Tony Robbins seminar. The boiler room banter crackles and the profanity and vulgarity are non-stop but there's a heart (although a fairly small one) beating underneath all of the cheating and double-crossing. Scorsese, who is a peerless master of unconventional storytelling, stages a half-dozen  outlandish set pieces that allow the cast to wallow in the narrative excesses of this delightful bacchanal. DiCaprio's work during the quaalude overdose scene reminded me of the physical comedy of a young Jerry Lewis, who was at the top of the screwball comedy heap during the '60s. Jonah Hill -- who stars as Belfort's second in command, the pearly-toothed Donnie Azoff -- is a wonderfully intuitive actor with Swiss-made comedic timing. His performance in Wolf is a true joy. Highly recommended.

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