Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Classic--Requiem for a Dream

or: The most depressing film. Ever.

One word to sum it up: Depressing.

How about this for irony? At Christmas, the happiest time of the year, I asked my friend to get me Requiem for a Dream, since I had wanted to see it for a long time. Just a little under a month later, it finally got posted and I received it as my Christmas present. Little did I know that that Christmas present wasn't really the happy gift that I could rejoice over. Instead, I literally felt drained of all happiness when that movie ended. I don't think I have ever cried so much during a movie!

Pills and heroin offer fulfillment of the dreams of four residents of Brooklyn's Brighton Beach in the shadow of a crumbling Coney Island amusement park. Sara (Ellen Burstyn) dreams of appearing on television wearing a red dress that's a bit snug. So she starts a diet assisted by uppers. Her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) pin their hopes for money on moving up from pushing nickel bags of heroin to buying in bulk. They also deal to support their growing habits. Things are going well: Harry buys his mum a new TV, she's losing weight, she has status among her friends, Tyrone's girlfriend is cool, and the team has money in a shoe box. These dreams are addictive.

Jesus Christ. This movie is not one I want to watch again anytime soon. It was far too traumatic. I have to admit, with the R18 rating heavily slapped on it, I feel as if I was too young to watch this movie. And I never admit defeat to a censors rating. I was watching it, thinking, 'this isn't too depressing...' However, once I got to the scene where Harry injects heroin into a decaying hole in his arm, I was watching this through my fingers. Seeing the end to each characters story thrown together in that beautifully edited climax tore me to pieces. I knew the effects of drugs, but I think I was too naï­ve to believe that it was quite that heartbreaking. My warning for this movie is: it's ultra depressing, on an epic scale.

Besides the shocking story, this movie is very well made. Darren Aronofsky, in his early years of film making, created a movie which is a lot like being high (I guess). The editing is perfect, and there are such quick cuts that the movie just blows away from you in no time. Aronofsky uses every trick in the book: split-screens, time lapsed photography, extremely tight closeups, long tracking shots, hip hop's the kind of film making that is truly amazing to watch. Set to a soaring score by Clint Mansell, the momentum this movie builds up is the type I could expect from an epic action film rather than a drama, which is something that happens too rarely. In short, the style of this movie is the kind that I go for. If I were to ever make a movie, then it would probably be similar to this.

The performances, too, are phenomenal. Especially the one from Ellen Burstyn as the tragic Sara Goldfarb. She is the main emotional arc in this movie, and her slow burning insanity is heart breaking to watch. The unfortunate thing is that her characters dream is immensely close to reality. Jennifer Connelly is wonderful as Marion. I absolutely adored the bath scene she's in which is a slick copy from a Japanese movie called Perfect Blue. Jared Leto isn't fantastic in this movie, but its the type of movie which makes you think that he should really still act. Marlon Wayans is surprising, and proves that he shouldn't really be doing...whatever it is that he does these days. The performances, the direction, the music...they're all at great form. And that's why Requiem for a Dream rocks, even if it's emotionally rattling.

THE VERDICT: Darren Aronofsky's talents are well on display here, with some clever visuals that help tell a tragic and depressingly true story of dreams shattered.



  1. Might have to watch Requiem at some point again.
    You have made it out to sound a whole lot more awesome, and even though I enjoyed it thoroughly when watching (and now I am starting to remember the ending with Sara and her mental breakdown which was nicely filmed, even if a bit campy,) it might be a film I'll come back to at some point. However, even though Burstyn was obviously the stand-out, I really took to Jared Leto, especially after watching My So-Called Life, he plays the complete opposite of his character in that TV show.

    Glad you stuck a little note on Perfect Blue in there (plus, I've mentioned it as being a favourite of mine about a million times for a million years,) which has probably put you off ever seeing it, haha. If you hadn't seen the orig. scene, linking you up now!

    Good review anyway! And you have now been welcomed into the fold of Aronofsky's work.

  2. Oh God, I was an absolute mess from the ending.

  3. You think the movie is tough, check out the book. I usually don't go for this hyper-stylized type of thing by Arronofky makes it work here (essentially blowing up Paul Thoma Andersons use of it in Boogie Night sot full length) but it works with the material and Arronsky has gone on to prove he's a true film stylist and not a decorator

  4. Cherokee - Obviously, I really took to this movie, you should definitely dig it up again! Have you any idea where I could find Perfect Blue online? Like, I found it on youtube, but it was such terrible definition that I couldn't see the subtitles. I have been welcomed to the Aronofsky fold. Thanks!

    MovieNut14 - took me a while to recover, too.

    Mike Lippert - I don't know I wanna read the book. I do, however, like the Aronofsky style.

  5. Just close the stupid little pop-ups that come up when you press play. It's pretty good quality (that includes the subtitles, they're not that bad either.) I just started watching the start and found myself laughing. Boy does that film take on different turns from that first 10 mins. I'm warning you to not go into the film lightly though. It is one big old head-fuck, that's for sure. Glad you're getting round to watching it all the same! Will be interesting to hear your opinions on it, (and to recieve wrath from my end if you didn't like it!)

  6. Thanks for the link! You gave me a movie to watch last night. Man, Perfect Blue was AMAZING! It's like, the biggest head-fuck I have ever seen in my life. I haven't completely figured it all out just yet, but I loved it all the same. Again, thank you!

  7. Requiem is one of my all time favourite films, but you're right about how depressing it is. Those last four minutes are about as close to emotional perfection as cinema can get. Brutal, beautiful and completely heartbreaking.

  8. Jeez...the last four minutes. Never been more depressed in my life! Beautifully made, agreed.

  9. So glad you watched it, and loved it. I was on the fence as to whether you would've dug it or not, but glad you're on board the Perfect Blue train! And it is definitely one might-head fuck. The first time I saw it was about 4 or 5 years ago, and I seriously have no idea how I could've even ended up loving it as much as I did (since I was about 12/13 at the time,) but boy on looking back at that film it is truly awesome.

    Write up a review of it woman! Gotta see your thoughts on it : ) Also, welcome to the world of Satoshi Kon. Thoroughly suggest watching Millennium Actress next (it is sort of a mind-fuck, but it's rolled more into a beautiful love story, so it definitely leaves room to calm down after PB.)

    And your Requiem review seems to be generating some nice feedback, well done!

  10. I'll write a review on Perfect Blue soon. I stil gotta do one on Peacock and Legend of the Guardians, which I'll probably get around to in the next couple of days!

    And it has been! I'm quite surprised, but really happy!

  11. That "Perfect Blue" bath scene was repeated by Aronofsky in Black Swan (except without the underwater scream).

    I have the soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream. It's totally epic, and the last twenty minutes of music is basically the audio for the last twenty minutes of the movie (sans dialogue). It's terrifying.

  12. The soundtrack to Requiem for a Dream is pretty awesome, huh? I usually listen to Lux Aeterna to make everything more epic.


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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