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Requiem for a Dream (2000)

  Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr.
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Christopher McDonald, Marlon Wayans
Links: Requiem for a Dream on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy the Book
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.00 (1 rating)
nofreelist.com Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Requiem for a Dream (2000) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Highway (2001), em_fiction's review of Thirteen (2003) and em_fiction's review of www.pro-anorexic.com (2004).

"Packs quite a punch" - a review by pearly

I really had forgotten how mesmerising this film is. I saw it at the cinema when it first came out, and have only just gotten around to giving it another watch. The one thing that I had not forgotten, and having just seen it again, I can see why, is Ellen Burstyn's performance. Wow.

Requiem for a Dream is basically about addiction. We have Sara (Burstyn), an aging widow who can't find anything to live for until she is sent a letter offering her a spot on a television gameshow, and who becomes hooked on diet pills in an aim to slim down for her appearance. Then there's Harry, Sara's son (Jared Leto). Harry, along with his friend Tyrone (Jared Leto), and girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), comes up with a scheme to sell drugs, but along the way, they all become addicted, and start using the supply that they're meant to be selling.

These lives, which appear relatively normal at the beginning of the film, goes through ups and downs, but ultimately head towards the climactic ending, which will leave anyone sitting gobsmacked.

All of this is helmed by director Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky's previous effort, Pi (1998), is quite the bizarro experience, and it's probably true to say that Requiem for a Dream is less so, however, it's still quite odd. Aronofsky's unique style is stamped all over this piece, though, and it makes it all the better. First, there's the split-screen shots which show what the different characters are up to at the same point in time. Sounds a bit clichéd, but it's done really well. Then, there are the repetitive quick-edit shots, an example of which is the sequences where the threesome take drugs. One of the most memorable pieces of imagery from the film is the repeated close-up of an eye becoming dilated. Lastly, there is the music, which is used to great effect in Requiem for a Dream, and ties everything else together.

Put simply, what I'm saying is that Aronofsky is the kind of director whose films are distinctly his own. He leaves a big huge Aronofsky mark right there on the film, which is impossible to get off, even with a really expensive stain remover. Luckily, you don't really want to remove the mark, cos it adds a certain something to the outfit anyway.

So, the reason that Requiem for a Dream became such a "cult hit" (I promise not to use that stupid term ever again) was because of the combination of Aronofsky's awesome vision, and the super-cool acting by the cast. It's certainly not a film for everyone (I can think of a few people who would be offended by the whole thing), but film buffs oughta swallow it up whole.

By the way, if you watch it late at night after one too many beers, I'll bet it would really mess with your mind, right from the Christopher McDonald bits at the very start. "WE GOT A WINNER!" indeed.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Mon 5 Jul 2004

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