Scorsese's black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street - reviews

Jan 16, 2014

Scorsese's provocative satire about disgraced stockbroker Jordan Belfort divides critics

What you need to know

Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, released in UK cinemas this week, has divided critics with some hailing it as a work of "genius" and others condemning its apparent celebration of greed. The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based on a memoir by disgraced former New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort. 

The story follows the rise of Belfort (DiCaprio) from a struggling penny stock dealer to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life and his eventual downfall due to fraud, corruption and drug abuse.

The film also features Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and Jean Dujardin.

What the critics like

Every second of The Wolf of Wall Street's three-hour running time is "virile with a lifetime's accumulated genius", says Robbie Collin in the Daily Telegraph. The machine-gun urgency of Scorsese's visceral story and a powerhouse performance from DiCaprio might make this Scorsese's best film since Goodfellas.

DiCaprio "cranks the volume up to ten for his performance as Belfort", says Xan Brooks in The Guardian. It's a pantomime Goodfellas played largely for laughs but polished and punchy, and the fun is infectious.

"Man, does this movie have a savage bite," says Betsy Sharky in the Los Angeles Times. It is such a kick to watch the filmmaker and the star go at the black-hearted comedy full throttle - it's Scorsese's brashest, most provocative work yet.

What they don't like

"It's certainly Scorsese's most technically accomplished work since Goodfellas, but also his most hollow and ill judged," says Kevin Maher in The Times. DiCaprio gives the performance of his career but he can't rescue a film that suggests, ultimately, that greed isn't just good, it's "F***ing great!"             

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