DVD Review: Requiem For A Dream
Time to dive into Darren Aronofsky’s twisted and powerful “Requiem for a Dream”.
Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 drama film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr., with whom Aronofsky wrote the screenplay. Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Requiem for a Dream exposes four paralleled individuals and their menacing addiction to heroin, cocaine, and diet pills (speed). Taking place in Brooklyn amidst the waning Coney Island, the drugs are very easily obtained and keep each main character in its cycle of dependence. The protagonist Harry Goldfarb is your typical heroin junky with an ambitious plan of “Getting off hard knocks,” with help from his cocaine crazed girlfriend Marion and his long time friend Tyrone. Meanwhile his widowed mother is obsessed with the glamor of television and eventually finds her way to a dietitian who pushes her into the cycle of drug induced enslavement.
The look of the film is extremely stylized, but justifiably so. Aronofsky uses surreal imagery as a vehicle for realism, something that really works when done well, and done well it was. By using a combination of slow and fast motion shots, extreme close-ups and more edits than you can shake a stick at, Aronofsky successfully brings the audience into the world and mind of someone with a drug problem. The audience visually experiences first-hand what it is like to be ‘scared’ or ‘high’ – all this in 3rd person; all this in the comfort of the theatre chair.
Of course, all of this effort would be in vain if it didn’t mean anything at the end. The film leads the audience down a spiral of addiction until the grand finale, which features a montage of graphically intense scenes and images with more edits per second than any film. The pacing at the end, when compared to earlier parts of the movie, was so fast I started to find it hard to keep up, and literally took my breath away as the credits came up. All in all, the effect was amazing, and something that I have not personally experienced when watching any film before.
At times, the film seemed more like an acid trip than a feature film. A cry for help is clearly felt throughout the film, from its innocent and promising start, to its hauntingly chilling conclusion. The one scene that really blew me away was the scene where Marion (played by Jennifer Connelley) had just sold her body off for a bag of heroin…As she walks out the door of the apartment, along the corridor, into the elevator, down to the street: one can’t help but feel the characters disgust with herself, filthy to the core, what it must feel like at…”ZERO”(rock bottom). The acting performances, especially by both Ellyn Burstyn and Marlon Wayans are simply breakthrough performances that earned critical acclaim across the board.
As the title indicates, “Requiem for a Dream” does not contain a happy ending. It is in no way optimistic, and only gives the audience faint pieces of hope and happiness. However, It does show what desperate people are willing to do, and how desperation will change someone’s life to its entirety. It is in the recognition of desperation where hope lies.
5 templar crosses out of 5
Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb
Jared Leto as Harry Goldfarb
Jennifer Connelly as Marion Silver
Marlon Wayans as Tyrone C. Love
Christopher McDonald as Tappy Tibbons
Mark Margolis as Mr. Rabinowitz
Louise Lasser as Ada
Marcia Jean Kurtz as Rae
Sean Gullette as Arnold the shrink
Keith David as Big Tim
Dylan Baker as Southern Doctor
Ajay Naidu as Mailman
Ben Shenkman as Dr. Spencer
Hubert Selby, Jr. as Laughing Guard
Darren Aronofsky as Visitor (Uncredited)