Perhaps it’s being part of a recession generation with parents who look back upon the seventies, eighties and nineties as the good, rich days. Or maybe it’s symptomatic of a wider societal trend to idolise the outrageous (see also: Miley, Kanye…) – but this movie has struck a chord with twenty-somethings the Western world over. Jordan Belfort, the swindling, philandering cocaine-snorting stockbroker should be everything we hate about an era that came back to bite us thirty years on. But his ambition, his guts, his wit in a world currently living on a shoestring is infectious. Like all great bad-but-good guys, Belfort’s attraction lies in his strange resemblance to the naughty kids at school. Of course you wouldn’t want to be him, but you really, really want him to like you all the same.
And the best thing? For about ten minutes after you leave the cinema, you feel a little bit like you’re unstoppable too – there’s a hell of a lot of psyched up pep talk in this movie (thanks Scorsese), and it ends up working on the audience. That’s until you realise you’re not actually a multi-millionaire with Jonah Hill for a best friend and that the real Jordan Belforts of the world contributed significantly to widespread poverty in modern America and embody pretty much all humanity’s worst traits.
Anyway, here are the real lessons from The Wolf of Wall Street:
As one particular viral quote of Belfort’s puts it, ‘The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.’ Whilst it certainly is ironic that it might be a stockbroker that helps inspire a generation, that’s not bad wisdom from a criminal.