Analysis of The Wolf of Wall Street

Summary "The Wolf of Wall Street" is a movie that follows the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker who lives a lavish life of drugs, sex, and reckless behavior while managing a team of drunk stockbrokers. As his illegal activities are exposed, he faces the consequences of his actions, including a divorce and potential jail time. He ultimately cooperates with the FBI, wears a wire, and is sentenced to prison for his crimes. While incarcerated, he reflects on his life and finds redemption by working with the FBI and playing tennis.

Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The story is filled with excess and debauchery, but lacks a clear message or moral lesson. It also seems to glorify Jordan's actions rather than condemning them. The characters are one-dimensional and lack depth, making it difficult to empathize with them. The pacing could also be improved, with long stretches of repetitive scenes. However, the writing and dialogues are engaging and witty, with some memorable lines. Overall, the story is entertaining but lacks substance.
Suggestions: To improve the screenplay, the writer should consider adding a stronger message or theme that encourages audiences to reflect on the consequences of greed and corruption. The characters also need more complexity to make them relatable. The pacing could be improved by removing repetitiveness and making the story more concise. Adding subplots and secondary characters could help to break up the monotony and add depth to the story. The protagonist's arc could also be more developed, with more emphasis on his internal struggles and how he overcomes them. Lastly, the ending could benefit from a clearer resolution or explanation of the consequences of the protagonist's actions.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort is a charismatic and ambitious young man who is drawn to the fast-paced and lucrative world of Wall Street. He disregards moral ethics and the law with a hunger for success and wealth. He is prone to reckless and hedonistic behavior, often indulging in drugs and wild parties. He is not presented as a morally upright or sympathetic character and is driven primarily by greed and ambition.


Naomi is a beautiful, intelligent, and sexually liberated woman who uses her seductive charms to escape her past. She is passionate and emotionally driven, but also assertive and cautious when needed. Naomi is depicted as a victim of Jordan's illegal activities, but also an enabler of his extravagant lifestyle. She is fiercely loyal to her family and friends but becomes increasingly fed up with Jordan's erratic behavior and infidelity. Ultimately, she makes a difficult decision to divorce him and seek custody of their children for their well-being.


Teresa is Jordan's girlfriend who is initially supportive of his business endeavors but becomes increasingly opposed to the illegal and unethical practices that he engages in. She is intelligent, empathetic, and has a strong moral compass. Despite enjoying the lavish lifestyle that Jordan's wealth affords them, she struggles with the ethical implications of their actions and begins to question their relationship. She is heartbroken and betrayed when she discovers that Jordan has been unfaithful to her, and ultimately becomes angry and disillusioned with his criminal behavior.


Jordan is a charismatic and driven stockbroker who is addicted to drugs, sex, and money. He values wealth and excess and is willing to take immoral and unethical actions to achieve success. He is a flawed character who struggles with addiction and shady dealings but is also capable of selflessness and reflection on his past mistakes.


Brad is a bald, muscular man with a Fu Manchu mustache. He is known for being the Quaalude king of Bayside and is a former pot dealer. Brad has a short temper and low tolerance for Donnie's behavior. He becomes a drug dealer and friend of Jordan's, helping him with money laundering schemes. Later on, Brad becomes a nervous, no-nonsense businessman. Brad dies of a heart attack due to the firm's illegal activities.


Donnie is a troubled and reckless individual with a history of drug addiction and violent outbursts. He is often involved in illegal activities with Jordan and acts as one of his enforcers when necessary. Although crude and vulgar towards women, Donnie is fiercely loyal to Jordan and will do whatever it takes to support him, even risking his own life. Despite his flaws and negative influence, Donnie's loyalty towards those he cares about and his occasional lightheartedness make him a complex character.

Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Jordan Belfort Jordan begins as a newcomer, excited and driven to succeed. He then rises to power and reinvents Stratton Oakmont. However, his actions catch up to him and he faces legal troubles and a troubled past. He finally turns his life around and cooperates with the authorities, ultimately finding redemption. While Jordan's arc is well-established, it follows a common trope of the rise and fall of a problematic protagonist. It may lack originality and depth.
To improve his character arc, Jordan should experience personal growth and reflection rather than only facing legal consequences. The story could focus on his internal struggles and the impact of his actions on his relationships and inner self. This could make his redemption more powerful and satisfying.
Naomi Naomi's character arc begins as a sexually liberated former model seeking escape from her past through the lavish lifestyle provided by Jordan. She is initially swept away by his extravagant gestures and happy to be in his company. However, her suspicions of his infidelity and erratic behavior lead to a power play in their relationship. After discovering a hidden camera, tension builds between them, and Naomi becomes increasingly disappointed with his behavior. Her pregnancy adds another layer of concern, and she becomes skeptical and cautious about Jordan's decisions. Ultimately, she makes the difficult decision to divorce him for the sake of their children. Naomi's character is complex, but her arc could benefit from more decisive acts of agency. While she is shown to be strong-willed and independent, some of her actions seem to be reactive rather than proactive. Additionally, her development seems to plateau as a wife and mother, and the potential for her to pursue her aspirations as a wine connoisseur and landscape architect is not fully explored.
To improve Naomi's character arc, there could be more scenes that showcase her agency and decision-making. This could involve solo moments where she pursues her own interests, such as wine-tasting or gardening, or moments where she takes the lead in resolving a conflict. Additionally, there could be a subplot where she reaches a personal or professional goal outside of her role as a wife and mother. This would add depth and dimension to her character, making her more relatable and inspiring.
Teresa Teresa's character arc follows her journey from a supportive girlfriend to a disillusioned and morally conflicted individual. Initially, she is swept up in Jordan's glamorous lifestyle and enjoys the benefits that his wealth provides. However, as she becomes more aware of the illegal and unethical nature of his business practices, she begins to struggle with her own conscience and the impact that their actions may have on others. Her relationship with Jordan becomes strained as a result, culminating in a devastating betrayal that shatters her trust in him. Ultimately, Teresa finds the strength to stand up for her own values and moral principles, setting her own course separate from Jordan's destructive influence. While Teresa's character is well-defined and sympathetic, her arc could be more fully developed to give her greater agency and impact in the story. She is largely relegated to a supporting role, and her journey is somewhat overshadowed by Jordan's own descent into criminality. There is potential for her to have a more active role in bringing about his downfall, or to take a more prominent stance against his actions earlier in the story.
To strengthen Teresa's arc, consider giving her more moments of conflict and resistance throughout the film. Perhaps she confronts Jordan earlier on about his business practices, or takes steps to distance herself from his actions. Alternatively, she could become more involved in investigating his activity and actively work against him. Giving her more agency and a stronger sense of purpose would make her a more dynamic and compelling character.
Jordan Jordan's character arc is one of unchecked ambition and extreme hedonism followed by a dramatic downfall and eventual redemption through cooperation with the FBI. He starts out as a successful, selfish, and morally questionable stockbroker who is willing to take illegal risks to make a fortune. He indulges in drugs, sex, and money and uses his power to manipulate those around him. But as his legal troubles mount and his drug addiction worsens, Jordan becomes increasingly isolated from his friends and family. He faces the most significant challenge of his life as he struggles with the reality of his situation and whether to cooperate with the FBI or not. Ultimately, he decides to work with the FBI and face the consequences of his actions. Through this, he finds redemption and is able to move on from his past mistakes. Overall, this is a solid character arc that effectively showcases both the highs and lows of Jordan's life. However, some sections could have been fleshed out more to create a more nuanced portrayal of the character. Additionally, Jordan's redemption arc feels a bit rushed and could have been given more time to fully develop.
To improve the character arc, there could be more emphasis on Jordan's relationships with his friends and family, particularly his troubled marriages. This would create a more complex character and provide additional conflicts for the storyline. Additionally, the redemption arc could be given more time to develop, with more emphasis on how Jordan is trying to make amends for his past mistakes. This could create a more satisfying conclusion to the story.
Brad Brad's character arc is one of devolution. At the beginning of the movie, he is a successful drug dealer, content with his lifestyle. However, when Jordan introduces him to money laundering schemes, he becomes greedy and power-hungry. As the illegal activities become riskier, Brad's anxiety and stress escalate, eventually culminating in his untimely death. At the end of the movie, he dies an unhappy man, realizing that his pursuit of wealth has led to his downfall. The character arc of Brad feels somewhat underdeveloped, as it becomes clear towards the end of the movie that he is becoming increasingly unstable and paranoid. Additionally, while his death is a pivotal moment in the story, it feels somewhat anticlimactic, as it occurs rather suddenly.
To improve the character arc of Brad, it would be helpful to further explore his motivations and desires. For example, why was he content with being a drug dealer at the beginning of the movie? What inspired him to become a businessman, and what made him so susceptible to Jordan's schemes? Additionally, the scene in which Brad dies could be expanded upon to make it more emotionally resonant and impactful.
Donnie Donnie starts off as a reckless and troublemaking individual who is always ready to do whatever Jordan asks of him. However, as the legal pressure mounts and Jordan's loyalty comes into question, Donnie begins to feel conflicted. He ultimately faces a difficult decision when Jordan begins to cooperate with the FBI and must choose between his loyalty to his friend and his own safety. He ultimately makes the decision to turn on Jordan and cooperate with the authorities, leading to a bittersweet ending where Donnie is able to start fresh but also faces the consequences of his past actions. While Donnie's character arc is compelling in terms of his loyalties and eventual betrayal, it feels somewhat cliché for a supporting character in a crime drama. Additionally, his background as a drug addict and violent enforcer feels underdeveloped and could benefit from further exploration in the screenplay.
To improve Donnie's character arc, the screenplay could delve deeper into his personal struggles with addiction and show how that impacts his relationship with Jordan and the illegal activities they engage in. Additionally, exploring the reasons behind his loyalty to Jordan and showing him wrestling with the decision to betray him could add more complexity to his character. Finally, adding a redemption arc for Donnie beyond just turning on Jordan could provide a more satisfying conclusion to his story.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
The Corrupt World of Wall StreetJordan entangles himself in the corrupt world of Wall Street, starting with his job at a penny stock brokerage and continuing with his success at Stratton Oakmont.The screenplay highlights the corrupt and dangerous world of Wall Street, where the pursuit of wealth and success can lead to unethical and even illegal behavior.
The Hedonistic Lifestyle of Jordan BelfortJordan showcases his decadent and drug-fueled lifestyle, throwing wild parties filled with drugs, sex, and hedonism.Jordan's hedonistic lifestyle is a major theme in the screenplay, showing the excesses and dangers of an unchecked pursuit of pleasure and wealth.
Betrayal and ConsequencesJordan's actions lead to consequences that affect both himself and those around him, including his marriage ending due to infidelity and his arrest and sentence to prison.Betrayal and consequences are central to the screenplay, highlighting the dangerous path that Jordan takes and the price that he and others pay for his actions.
The Pursuit of Happiness and SuccessJordan is driven by a constant desire for wealth and success, going from a penny stock brokerage to the head of his own brokerage firm.The pursuit of happiness and success is a key theme in the screenplay, showcasing both the allure and danger of an obsession with success and wealth.
The Dangers of Drug AbuseJordan's drug use leads to reckless behavior, including nearly crashing his car multiple times while under the influence and becoming violent when confronted by his wife about their divorce.The dangers of drug abuse are a recurrent theme in the screenplay, showing how drug use can lead to dangerous and destructive behavior.

Screenwriting Resources on Themes


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