The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The 12th day of buzzmas: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is tasteless yet brilliant

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio in 2013 Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Columnist Annisyn Krebs-Carr reviews Scorsese’s infamous film upon its 10 year anniversary.

**This story contains spoilers.**

It’s been 10 years since the Christmas release of Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street,” a three-hour excessively vulgar display of drugs, sex, greed and Wall Street.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is knowingly shallow, even laughable in some instances. It’s untamed. Coked-out. Tasteless. It’s terrible people doing even worse things for just under three hours, and somehow, Scorsese turns it into a dizzyingly entertaining movie, ridding the viewer of their morals to enjoy three hours of pure excess. 

It’s entertaining and outrageous, but that’s all it ends up being. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is not a hidden critique of capitalism or a cautionary glimpse of how power and greed affects people. It’s simply just a disgusting display of extravagant wealth meant to entertain the viewer.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” needs to be taken for what it is — pure entertainment, nothing else.

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Based on a true story, the film follows a young Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he navigates through Wall Street, becoming one of the most successful and corrupt stockbrokers in the industry. 

Eventually starting his own company, Stratton Oakmont, Belfort sells fraudulently inflated stocks, shamelessly ripping off the poor before settling on a bigger victim — the rich. 

Objectively, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a good movie with a lot going for it. Itʼs raucous, crazily energized and daringly flashy. Phenomenal directing along with Scorsese’s indisputable ability to tell a story creates an undeniably enjoyable film.

It’s packed with beautifully choreographed shots, extravagant sets, glamorous cinematography and phenomenal acting. DiCaprio dives into the role as he often does, fully encompassing every shallow aspect of Belfort with a wickedly charming smile. 

Margot Robbie also lays on the charm and the accent as Naomi Lapaglia, Belfort’s wife. Robbie commands the scene each time she enters it in a delightfully glamorous breakout performance that solidifies the star-studded cast of the movie. 

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is long, teetering on the edge of too long and barely shying away from becoming a muddled mess of excess. The film could very well lose an hour and hold the exact same meaning; in all honesty, you could watch 15 minutes of it and probably get the gist. 

Though all of the excessive partying can become repetitive, the film has a surprising ability to keep the viewer’s attention. The movie sucks you  into Belfort’s world of flashy surplus and destructive behaviors. 

No matter what it was — partying, drugs, sex — there was always something going on, always something to hold your attention, making the three-hour film feel not quite so long. 

But in an effort to provide endless entertainment to the viewer comes the glamorization of the sex, drugs and greed that permeates the entire film. “The Wolf of Wall Street” tries to precariously balance the line of the glorification of that greed and being a cautionary tale, but ultimately falls flat, as the movie becomes purely a spectacle for amusement with no upstanding moral line to balance on.

Multiple out-of-control addictions are an exhibit of sole enjoyment, with no real consequences — or at least, no awareness of those consequences. An unreasonable amount of the film is Belfort doing drugs, talking about doing drugs, or objectifying women — and seemingly every woman in the film is objectified. “The Wolf of Wall Street” ends up following a simple formula: sex, coke, pills, repeat. 

Belfort ends up destroying nearly everything in his life: himself, his marriage, his company — and yet, at the end of the film, he has learned nothing. He has no shell of remorse to offer. 

“I’m not ashamed to admit it, when we arrived to prison I was absolutely terrified,” Belfort says in one of the final scenes of the movie. “But I needn’t had been.

“See, for a brief fleeting moment, I’d forgotten I was rich,” he finishes as the camera films him playing tennis in prison, clad in a white outfit and a smile on his face. 

Iʼve rolled this scene over and over in my mind, trying to figure out the appropriate way to analyze it. Trying to decipher if there was any true meaning behind it. 

I think that’s where “The Wolf of Wall Street” finally offers something substantial to give to the viewer. A simple numbing reminder that men like Belfort, conmen with more money than they would ever know what to do with, can get away with almost anything.

Because in part, he did get away with it; Belfort remains the same man he was at the beginning of the film. The horrible things that span over the three hour film aren’t meant to reveal them as unethical or unjust, and they aren’t meant to be a critique of Belfort’s actions. They are meant to glamorize them.

So I say again, take “The Wolf of Wall Street” for what it is. It’s an enthrallingly tasteless movie, filled with a star-powered cast, exceptional directing and brilliant cinematography. It’s a movie meant to entertain. And that’s it.


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About the Contributor
Annisyn Krebs-Carr
Annisyn Krebs-Carr, Senior buzz Reporter
Hi, I’m Annisyn! I am currently a freshman majoring in journalism. I started with The Daily Illini in Fall 2023 as a buzz staff writer, and became Senior buzz Reporter in the spring. I’m excited to be a part of The DI editorial team, and I’m looking forward to writing more arts and entertainment content. When I’m not writing for The DI, I enjoy playing with my dogs and watching movies. For any questions or concerns feel free to contact me at my email below.
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