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Perhaps most disturbingly, it's not necessarily that all of these things are depicted that's the problem so much as the fact that the viewer's response to them will vary based on whether or not he or she finds the lifestyle shown attractive, or despicable. In other words, in ways that are similar to Mad Men, a viewer's desire for Belfort's money and the lifestyle it brings could be a factor in making some viewers more or less tone deaf to the moral judgments buried in the film.

Critics and viewers have been divided on whether the film goes far enough in indicting Belfort, or whether the film functions as a playbook for future would-be Belforts; I'd argue the film shows that our system is set up such that some people can get away with their crimes, so long as they're rich enough. But some viewers may want what they see and be willing to take the risk. The best piece I've read on this discussion is by Indiewire's Sam Adams, and I'd recommend reading his take to the end (it contains two profanities), even if you have absolutely no plans to see the movie, as a starting point for conversation.

Alissa Wilkinson is Christianity Today's chief film critic and an assistant professor of English and humanities at The King's College in New York City. She tweets at @alissamarie.

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