Jordan Belfort, high out of his mind on Quaaludes, crawls out of a country club; he’s foaming at the mouth, flopping around like a dying fish, and mumbling incoherently. He lives less than a mile away, but he can barely get the door of his Lamborghini open. Yet, he somehow makes it home perfectly fine. The thing is, the trip home plays out very differently in his mind; it’s later revealed that not only is his car busted up, but he’s caused a large amount of property damage.
That right there is the essence of the film. On the one hand, it’s a hilarious, brilliantly acted setpiece that we can laugh at. On the other hand, it emphasizes the delusions of a man high off drugs, women, money, and power. We can’t forget that this story is told through Belfort’s point of view, and Jordan Belfort isn’t a good guy at all. He has no regard for the law, he destroys all his relationships, and he manipulates those around him, whether he calls them “friends” or not. He can spew out a seemingly deep, emotional tale about the “rags to riches” backstory of one of his brokers, but in reality, she’s just an investment. He can try and save his buddy’s skin with a message on a napkin, but he’ll be the one ratted out at the end; he has no friends.
Of course, that brings us to the questions: Why did Scorsese and Winter essentially just remake the book? Why not explore the victims of Belfort’s heinous crimes, the innocent people swindled out of a hell of a lot of cash by a callous maniac? Why not come right out and condemn this behavior? What’s with all the collaboration with the actual Belfort?