Requiem For A Dream


Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by:Hubert Selby Jr, Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connolly, Marlon Wayans
Released: February 8, 2001
Grade: A+

"They held each other and kissed

and pushed each others' darkness into the corner,

believing in each others' light, each others' dream." - Hubert Selby Jr.

They say a picture paints a thousand words.  I've always believed film is an art form and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to see Requiem For A Dream.  Some movies are about more than big stars, popcorn and happy endings.  Some movies leave you thinking for a long time.

I left Requiem For A Dream an emotionally changed individual.  I walked out the Dendy Cinema doors with a wave of others and headed down Adelaide Street.  The whole time, the film's intense music score was repeating over and over through my mind.  All sense of reality had been taken from me during the film's final half-hour and it would take more than a short walk to get it back.

If I sound cryptic, it's just that this film is anything but standard.  Harry (Leto) is a guy who likes to get high on drugs whilst dealing a little on the side cause there's money to be made.  Also a junkie is his girlfriend, Marion (Connolly), who wants Harry to get some cash together to help create their future.  Helping Harry obtain the drugs for distribution is his partner Tyrone (Wayans).  Tyrone wants the respect that comes with being a powerful drug dealer.  Finally, there's Harry's mother, Sara (Burstyn).  She's fixated by television and on getting a letter in the mail offering her a chance to appear on a show, she knows this is her chance to shine.  To lose a few kilos in preparation, she gets the number of local doctor who can give her pills to lessen her appetite.

All four of these people want more out of life and have turned to drugs to do it.  Unlike many other films on the subject matter, the whole "drugs are bad" theme is not obviously stated.  You watch these four, watch what becomes of them and then you can decide for yourself the effect that drugs have.

31-year-old director Darren Aronofsky (Pi) has created a hypnotic experience reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia.  We have a bunch of related stories that when interwoven create a viewing experience that when mixed with Client Mansel's score, is impossible to look away from.  Aronofsky is bold and unafraid to push new techniques.  There were several scenes that were incredibly difficult to bear and I'm not just referring to those where people inject needles and get high.  To see Sara struggle with her "demon" refrigerator is a perfect example.

Since the award season has started, I have touted that if Julia Roberts' performance in Erin Brockovich was the best of year then I'm not here.  I can now sleep soundly having witnessed Ellen Burstyn’s incredible accomplishment.  Despite being 68 years of age, she creates a compassionate character, tortured by the effect of drugs and it must have been a very draining experience.  She was last nominated for an Academy Award twenty years ago and is a certainty to be rewarded with a nomination this year.

When you see as many films as I do, you often have preconceptions and end up finding yourself going through the motions by just ticking off each film as you see it.  Then out of nowhere, something comes along that reinvigorates your passion as both a viewer and a critic.  This is my drug.  This is what I get off on.  This is Requiem For A Dream.