My View: The Wolf of Wall Street

I don’t write movie reviews on just any old film. That’s not for me. A film has to stir something in me to write about it. One such film is The Wolf of Wall Street. This is not a critical review of the movie. There are hundreds of those out there already. No, this is a quick overview of the movie, a look at the behaviours that are reflected in the film and  where the characters should take you if you allow them.


I finally went to see this film yesterday. It’s based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker’s rise to riches. It’s directed by Martin Scorsese. Martin just knows how to make a film with glamour and grubbiness without leaving viewers bored that’s for sure. No matter how a person interprets this film it does have a certain balance to it. It takes viewers into a glamorous life and then through the sordid downfall and betrayal of the stockbroker. Leonardo DiCaprio is wonderful in this film, as is Jonah Hill. And I must mention Australian actress Margot Robbie who plays a fantastic part as Naomi. This film essentially for me was about human weakness, the building of excess in the pursuit of happiness and the brutal truth that excess comes at a price. Did I enjoy it? Yes and no, and perhaps that’s how Scorsese wants it. I felt this uncomfortable dislike after coming out of the cinema knowing that Belfort had taken so much from people. Belfort was fueled by greed and abundance.

This leads me to human behaviour.  While studying Gestalt therapy I came across an article piece about the boundary process and people being defined by their boundaries. A quote added in the notes was “All contact is creative adjustment of the organism and environment” (F. Perls  etal., 1951, p.230) The study goes on to suggest that as living creatures in an environment we naturally adjust to our environment. But!  Here’s where things get all behavioural and sometimes messy.  People often strive to shape the environment to comply with their needs, wants and desires. Enter the Wolf of Wall Street.  The boundaries being contact (joining individuals with others) and awareness (people grow by becoming aware) meeting and interacting with others.  In therapy study we’re told contact has dual functions, joining and separating. I couldn’t help but exaggerate this concept in the behaviours of Jordan with his charismatic charm and gift of the gab joining others to him, and then, looking at his profuse drug taking to separate himself and preserve a false sense of autonomy and facilitate self-supporting functions of feeling good in the most unsafe way possible.  Excess will always come at a price.

Of course, whether that be the case or not, self-support is everything and critical in any kind of theory for change but it needs to be the right kind of self-support. Without exaggerating the Gestalt therapy like above and contact being dual, joining and separating means something different entirely.  A therapist would work with a client to separate from what is called “unfinished business” or the trauma of the past so they can move on. Or in the case of joining a therapists would be working with the client to sit with the pain, experiencing the journey to resolve the trauma.  Nevertheless, the movie provided a glimpse into the life of one man, Jordan Belfort, whose behaviour seemed somewhat dual, having a dysfunctional process and perhaps many boundary disturbances. 

The Wolf of Wall Street, if you allow it, should take you on a journey with all the highs (pardon the pun) and lows of human behaviour.  Scorsese is a master at taking the viewer through all the emotions of the characters, and that for me, is a good film. I think there should be places in the film where you feel uncomfortable, happy, high, distressed or broken. This is the essence of great storytelling. This is a four star film for me. 🙂


  1. Remember this is not a critical movie review. It’s more a reason to make you think a little deeper about why people do the things they do. 🙂 If you want critical reviews and opinions you can go here. Fraud on film. And here.

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