I've recently had to come to grips with the reality that I work in sales.
For a long time I had kinda danced around it: I was in customer service, or I assisted people who made sales, I was the technical guy who handled the half of the equation that the sales guy couldn't or wouldn't, though on that last one I've come around to thinking that if you're not interested in and capable of both making the sale and servicing it, you shouldn't be doing it.
But over the past 9 months or so, as I've done more and more sales, I've come to really enjoy it. I like contacting people and finding ways to solve their problems with Shopify. I like the artistry of pitching, of convincing someone that what I want to share with them is something that's worth their time, and then not just delivering on but exceeding that implied promise.
As played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jordan Belfort is an absolutely incredible salesman. When he gets on the phone and pitches a piece of crap stock to a willing sucker... it's both beautiful and terrifying. I was sitting in the theatre just marveling at it, and in an early scene when he's asking his new hires to try and sell him a pen, I was screaming inside that these idiots had no idea what they're doing. Start with rapport, god damn it! Find the customer's problem! Offer a solution!
After getting his ass handed to him on Wall Street, Belfort starts pitching worthless penny stocks to suckers, and it's on the basis of this that he becomes wildly, obscenely, rich and successful.
We don't spend any time with the victims of his actions (most of which weren't crimes at the time, and still aren't now), because this isn't a story about them, it's a story about what happens when you take incredibly talented people, remove morality and consequences from the equation, and let them run wild. It sounds awesome at first, and there's certainly a seductive appeal to it... but beneath the surface there's some pretty sociopathic stuff going on.
And there are no real consequences. The characters in the film do anything they want, snort whatever they want, fuck whoever they want, fuck over everyone they meet, and in the end do a couple years in prison, pay back some of their ill-gotten gains, and land successful careers as authors and motivational speakers. How the hell are we okay with this as a society when people get 10 years for dealing a bit of pot?
The movie isn't interested in answering that question, because I think society isn't really interested in answering it either.
Of course, this is all very entertaining to watch. It's easily the funniest movie Scorsese's ever made, and the insanity of what's happening on screen goes well beyond anything I've seen in any other movie this year. It had to, in order to underline the point of just how ridiculous the whole thing is. In addition to DiCaprio's incredible and surprisingly physical performance, Jonah Hill is fantastic as Belfort's sidekick, and there's a ton of great supporting characters.
The Wolf of Wall Street is absolutely not a feel-good movie despite being about someone who recklessly chases whatever makes him feel good. It's a great movie, an important movie, and it's absolutely one you should see.
Just don't bring your kids. The movie had to be cut to get in under an NC-17, and the amount of nudity, drugs, and bad behaviour is off the charts.