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The Wolf of Wall Street - Film Review

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Published January 13th 2014
Was all this legal? Absolutely not
After US stockbroker Jordan Belfort's AU$275million empire crumbled to ruins in the late 1990's, the money laundering fraudster served just 22 months in jail.

Recalling the noxious world of stock-selling firm Stratton Oakmont, likened to the Biblical dens of sin Sodom and Gomorrah, Belfort's memoirs have been published in almost 40 countries, translated into 18 languages, and have become the basis for one of the most anticipated films of 2014.

Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio
"I call these fun coupons"

The Wolf of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, with first-rate supporting actor Jonah Hill playing his best mate and business partner Donnie Azoff.

The film, like Belfort, is wickedly formidable. The wit of the sex and drug-addicted swindler is as exhilarating as it is horrendous.

Directed by Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Hugo), the film begins with Stratton Oakmont's Friday afternoon tradition, a midget-tossing competition.

What follows is a fast-paced tumult of intoxicated hedonism, viciousness and lust, throughout which Belfort appears, quite impressively, to have the upper hand.

Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio

"What separates Jordan's story from others like it," DiCaprio has said, "Is the brutal honesty with which he [shares] the mistakes that he's made."

But, released at time when many are still scrambling from the wreckage of the financial crisis, the film has been criticised as a reckless endorsement of Belfort's decadent and deceptive life.

Yet it's through "reckless endorsement" that Scorsese has crafted such an engaging black comedy. A born leader, Belfort parades the swollen pride and arrogance of an empowered magnate.

At times you respect him – "She asked me for $5,000 upfront for her son's tuition," Belfort says of one employee, "And what did I do...?" She answers, "He gave me $25,000."

Other times you detest him – he divorces his good, respectable wife who disapproves his infidelity and financial debauchery, for blond prize Naomi LaPaglia (Australian actress, Margot Robbie).

Most of the time, you're challenged with scenarios that are so #swag, you forget to think, WTF??

Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio
I'm on a yacht.

Tipped as an Oscars 2014 nominee for best film, with DiCaprio an anticipated candidate for best actor, The Wolf of Wall Street already boasts the unofficial title of "film with the most instances of the word f**k". It contains 506 utterances, 71 more than previous non-documentary record holder, Spike Lee's Summer of Sam.

Another noteworthy statistic is that Leo spends almost half the film shirtless, surrounded by more naked women than the average man probably gets to see in his lifetime.

It's crass, profane, and has fewer inhibitions than a power-hungry man on Quaaludes.

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Why? For 180mins of exhilaration
When: Australian release - 23 January
Where: Your local cinema
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