Rating: 7/10 - Very Good
There have been a number of movies about drugs - or shall I say the reality of drugs? Trainspotting could not have been more vivid; dead babies, filth-encrusted toilets, wasted lives. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000) hits hard and hits fast. There’s no glamour, only seedy underbelly.
Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Marlan Wayans, Jennifer Connelly. Screenplay: Darren Aronofsky, based on the book by Hubert Selby Jnr. Producers: Eric Watson, Palmer West. Music: Clint Mansell. Cinematography: Matthew Libatique. Studio: Thousand Words. Running Time: 101 minutes. Rating: 18
At the beginning of the film Harry (Jared Leto) and his partner Tyrone (Marlan Wayans) have a dream to make one big score and be financially independent. Marion (Jennifer Connelly), Harry’s girlfriend, dreams of her own dress business. Harry’s mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn) dreams of being on television. These are normal dreams, obtainable dreams, perhaps nothing too impossible or out of reach. Only thing is Harry is an addict. He begs, borrows and steals for his fixes. Marion is an addict too. And in what is the most shocking example of the ‘normalisation’ of pill popping so prevalent in our modern day culture, Sara becomes addicted to uppers and downers in her efforts to lose weight.
As each addict descends deeper into their addiction, their dreams recede and mock them of the reality that their life has become. Using the style for which Aronofsky has now become accustomed, he uses montages (known as hip-hop montages) throughout the film, as well as split-screen. The speeding up of shots demonstrate each addict’s plunge into their various intoxications. His varying use of tight close-ups and extreme distance further emphasise the inner turmoil and lessening grip on reality. Aronofsky doesn’t judge or elicit our sympathy. He merely tells the story.
What he does question is our preconceived notions of an addict. It’s not just those shooting up or snorting in the back alleys behind nightclubs. It’s those who can’t face the day without their prescription happy pills. Those who swallow laxatives and thinz to take the edge off their appetites. It’s those who are addicted to pain pills to move their joints. It’s your neighbour, it’s your husband, it’s your own mother.
The film won significant critical acclaim with Ellen Burstyn nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
Verdict: Compelling viewing.
Requiem For A Dream is available now on DVD.