So every Saturday Night for me is "Pizza and a movie" night. Tonight, for some reason I decided I wanted to see "Requiem For a Dream." I've no idea why, but I had to see it, and I've just finished.
First and foremost ... WHAT THE FUCK?!
Now, let me be clear, I mean that in a *good* way. I felt like Darren Aronofsky's (and kudos to you for doing this sir) film took my brain, put it in a blender, set the blender to "puree" and let it run for two hours. I like movies that mess with my brain a bit, but in no way was I prepared for this. This was a film that absolutely took my senses and just went to town on them. WOW!
I found it very interesting that for something that really felt more like a collection of short films that were meshed together, once the movie gets going, things flow very well.
Now I'll readily admit that I got lost trying to follow the plot a number of times, but essentially it's about a group of people whose lives begin to spiral completely and utterly out of control as their various addictions take over. First is Ellen Burstyn who plays Sarah Goldfarb, a doting mother who is addicted to television, continually watching the same infomercial again and again and again, and almost obsessed with the belief that her life will mean something if she can just get onto television. Despite friends and family who truly do care for her, Goldfarb believes she is completely alone in her life and seems to believe getting on TV will validate her existence. When she receives a call out of the blue that she has been randomly selected to be a TV contestant (though never told what she'll be on or when), Goldfarb believes that this is her moment to shine and decides that she has to lose fifty pounds in order to fit into the dress she wore to her son's graduation so she can wear the dress on whatever show she appears on. Unfortunately, Sarah Goldfarb also appears to be a food addict and can't handle her cravings after a day of being on a grape fruit diet. When one of her friends mentions that their daughter went on pills that took away their appetite, Goldfarb asks for the Doctor's contact information one night so she can get her own prescription. Unfortunately, the naive and trusting Goldfarb is given a prescription for Speed by an incredibly inattentive Doctor. The result is the kind of self destruction of a character that has caused me to offically demand
that the Motion Picture Academy award a belated Oscar to Ellen Burstyn for one of the single most brilliant performances I have EVER seen. An absolute "Better than Sex!!!" effort on her part.
Next is Jennifer Connolly, Jared Leto, and Marlon Wayans as Marion Silver, Harry Goldfarb, and Tyrone C. Love respectively. Brooklynites all, Harry and Marion are a young couple who are essentially looking to escape their lives while Tyrone, Harry's best friend, is a fellow addict who's along for the ride and looking to make a quick buck. Tyrone and Harry decide to use their sources and pool their money to become dealers on their own, while Marion becomes more and more dependent on Harry for drugs. For a fair while everything goes according to plan and the three are on top of the world. Then a gang war erupts that cuts off the drug supply to New York entirely (a plot point that I found rather perplexing to say the least) and things begin to spiral spectacularly downward for the three. Tyrone is nearly killed when a meeting with the pair's supplier turns into an assassination attempt, Harry develops a severe infection in his shooting arm, and Marion does the only thing she can think of and sells her body for drugs when Harry can no longer provide the fix she needs.
Opinion wise, I have to say that first and foremost I honestly think that if you showed this movie in high schools, the number of youth addicted to drugs would plummit. This thing really made me feel like I was seeing an addict's life implode, and seeing it from the addict's point of view. I was absolutely blown away by the film's intensity and, as I said, I honestly believe this thing could turn people away from drugs. It truly needs
to be seen.
The cinematography here is absolutely incredible and is one of the things that makes "Requiem For a Dream" the dark masterpiece that it is. I also had no idea how influential this movie must have been in the film community. Homer's first taste of the ribwich on "The Simpsons" makes WAY more sense, as well as Requiem apparently being the origin for the idea of mounting a camera on an actor, then speeding up the background footage (used wonderfully with Denzel Washington during "Inside Man"). Even such simple techniques as speeding up or slowing down footage and sound are masterfully used to show a character's highs and lows. Then there's the use of split screen ... oh the use of split screen ... I've never in my life seen split screen used more beautifully than this movie. I'm not going to attempt to describe it, but instead will link to a clip of one of the single most beautiful character moments I have ever seen (embedding was regrettably disabled):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csJ16bvwYKU
There, back? Seriously, wasn't that scene utterly beautiful? Finally (it's two am so I should wrap this up), it would be an absolute crime if I didn't take a moment to applaud the work of Clint Mansell on the movie's score. I'd swear that there were only three pieces of music used in the movie, but they fit each moment brilliantly. Not only is the track "Requiem for a Dream" probably one of the most recognizable pieces of music in cyberspace, but it really does belong here. The music here is so utterly gorgeous that I need the soundtrack. Now.
Originally, I'd planned to rate "Requiem" lower than I'm going to, but in hindsight I think this movie is something that you need to allow your mind to digest before you decide what you think of it. It's a dark, beautifully shot look into a world where addictions can both elevate you and kill you. I was initially thinking of rating it a low Full Price as the movie did lose me in places, but in hindsight, I think I have to go higher. Much higher.
Rating: BETTER THAN SEX!!!