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Stephanie Zacharek’s Smart “But Still Comes Up Empty” Comes Up Strong

In response to Stephanie Zacharek’s 1026‑word review of The Wolf of Wall Street on Village Voice

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Stephanie Zacharek’s abilities as a master wordsmith are once again on display in “The Wolf of Wall Street Has Everything Money Can Buy—But Still Comes Up Empty.” It is smart, artfully detailed, and, more importantly, a pleasure to read.

Zacharek admittedly gets off to a rocky start when she opens with “Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is the kind movie directors make when they wield money, power, and a not inconsiderable amount of arrogance.” A sentence like that seems too personal, and a little unfair. It’s one thing to negatively critique a film fairly, another to act like you have the ability to read a director’s mind (Arrogance? Really?).

Fortunately, the reviewer drops this tone quickly, and the rest of the review features the kind of insightful commentary and analysis audiences have come to expect from Zacharek. Even those who may disagree with what she has to say will marvel at how she says it. As a pure writer, she is not just a gifted craftsperson; she’s a real artist. This piece is yet another example.

Her observations here are thought-out and backed up with examples from the film. She’s not above being snarky now and then, either; but when she is, you can’t help but smile.

But Still Comes Up Empty is smart and effective. In fact, this is one of the most intelligent reviews you will read in this review season.     

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation