Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #92

The actor:Leonardo DiCaprio
The character:Jordan Belfort
The film:The Wolf of Wall Street
The quote:“I’m not leaving. I’m not fucking leaving!”

In 2013, Martin Scorsese had yet to make two of his best movies period in Silence and The Irishman, which both turn on extended moments of indecision from their protagonists. Rodrigues, about to break after months of a personalized torture sequence in which other people must suffer because he will not alter himself, looks at a portrait of his messiah and hears a voice. Frank Sheeran, ordered by his surrogate father to murder his surrogate brother, has a long time to think about it on a private flight. Those moments are prefigured by this one, where a moment of indecision results in Jordan Belfort making…not a bad decision, given the way things work out for him, but an inconvenient one. Until this moment, I don’t know that Scorsese had made a more impressive one since The Age of Innocence, where Newland stares at the water and the boat and the lighthouse and Ellen, or even since The Last Temptation of Christ, when said temptation occurs. Jordan Belfort is as romantic a hero to himself as Newland Archer, as essential and godlike a figure as Jesus Christ.

He is spellbinding in the little monologue, a defeated farewell he’s giving to troops whose greatest campaigns are behind them. His team is rapt, even the people in the back of the room who we know, from Jordan’s own experiences, are the ones with the most extravagant dreams. They hang on each word, not that they’re words which are all that interesting to hang on. This is the moment, as Jordan says, where he is being sold to instead of selling. He uses the word “hypocrisy,” which is an interesting word to use. It’s the first time where he looks into himself and sees something sinful. The other stuff, which literally fills up a three-hour movie, has not reached that status; like his future, the bad deeds and their dividends are more inconvenient than anything else. Sins against others are of no account for Jordan Belfort. In this moment, he realizes that he is sinning against himself. He is choosing to do something that someone else wants rather than doing what he really wants to do.

Again, this is an idea that Scorsese has worked wonders with in the past. This is where Goodfellas comes in, a movie that Jordan would be all about if he were to go see it. (He would consume that film as mindlessly as so many people have consumed The Wolf of Wall Street mindlessly. Circle of life.) “Right after I got here,” Henry tells us from the steps of his witness protection life, “I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and got egg noodles and ketchup.” Jordan Belfort does not even get to egg noodles and ketchup. Perhaps he can taste those unfortunate flavors together as he stops and then hoarsely gets out an “I’m not leaving.” And then another, stronger. “I’m not leaving.” And then, most tellingly, most pubescently, complete with his voice cracking and his words running together, “I’mnotfuckinleaving!”

One thought on “Top 100 American Movie Quotes of the 21st Century: #92

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s