Requiem for a Dream Reviews
The performances are strong, though no one really stood out- likely because of the majority of the film's subdued nature. However, when it does build up Burstyn delivers something memorable and fascinating.
Really, it was Sara Goldfarb's story that kept me engaged and interested here and I think it easily made up for some of the film's weaker points. It would be very easy for a film taking itself this seriously to be nothing but a complete joke and whilst, this possibly comes somewhat close at times, it never actually ends up there and I think that's a credit to Aronofsky's direction- this isn't a film trying to be cool, it's just legitimately cool at times. The way he captures frantic addictive tendencies is a real technical achievement and it makes up for some of the script's, quite generic, interpretations of these same concepts.
Deserving of its cult status but still just a little too nineties if we're being honest (though I believe it's technically a film of the noughties but, facts are irrelevant).
Original rating: 3-9-2008. "Powerful..." 9/10
This movie shows drug addiction through stories about a widowed woman, played to perfection by Ellen Burstyn, her son Harry, a great Jared Leto, his girlfriend Marion, a good Jennifer Connelly, and his best friend Tyrone, a spectacular Marlon Wayans at his best. All of these characters have a view of happiness that they are all trying to reach but addiction is getting in the way of them reaching it.
All of the performances are off the charts. Every one in this movie gives it their all and it shows. The writing is great the dialogue is spot on. The direction is perfect from Darren Aronofsky, he really know how to make the audience feel like they are on drugs, and the cinematography is chilling, bleak, and perfect. And the score, oh my god the score, is so perfect and disturbing and fitting for this film. The sound track alone will give you chills. It really is one if the best soundtracks of all time in my opinion.
Requiem for a Dream is a dark disturbing tale that is not for people who are bothered by strong depictions of addiction. It makes drugs not look fun for a change. It makes you not want to do them, which it was meant to do. This movie is great, and I have no flaws with it.
There is an unwavering sense of disgust from the opening scene, and it never lets up from there, making it the only film that I can confidently say I wanted to squirm in my seat while watching. It is an upsetting film in every sense of the word, made apparent by the emotional performances, the characters' goals in life slowly slipping through their fingers (hence the title) due to their use of drugs, and the uncomfortably close camera angles that give the viewer a cringe-inducing sense of entrapment.
It's easy to think of this film before seeing it and assume it is purely dependent on the significance of the subject matter with no substance from a filmmaking standpoint. However, if the film lacked in filmmaking, it would not be nearly as upsetting. Darren Aronofsky knows how to trap the viewers into the horrible events with a stellar cast, Clint Mansell's haunting score, and an unwavering sense of dread. This dread is made possible by how the characters are crafted. Watching them abandon dignity, hold onto false hope, and stomach such disturbing situations made me almost struggle to stay seated, a feat no other film has accomplished.
One cannot talk about this film without mentioning Ellen Burstyn's performance. She is tied with Essie Davis in The Babadook for my favorite performance by an actress. What they do so well is make the viewers feel such pity for their miserable lives with performances so convincing that it's easy to forget that they are actors. Although Burstyn outshines everyone else, Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans, and Jennifer Connelly are fantastic in their roles, doing what Aronofsky most definitely expected them to do: Make the audience feel their characters' pain.
As well as the performances, what Aronofsky does technically is equally astounding. Whether a director can add more layers to the story than what is on paper is what separates a mediocre director from a great one, and Aronofsky proves himself to be the latter. Aronofsky uses the same editing technique each time a specific character takes a specific drug, for instance. As the viewer counts the times the technique is used, they feel more and more despair as the characters addictions become gradually stronger.
Where his technical skills really shined for me was the final scene where he wraps up the film perfectly. He shows a montage of our characters laying down, and provides so much with this one directorial choice. All characters except that of Jared Leto assume the fetal position. My interpretation of this is that it's a gesture of despair, conveying a similarity between them.
The position also indicates that they are clutching the one thing that helps them take their mind off their new unbearable lives. The reason Harry (Jared Leto) does not assume the position is that he has nothing to hold on to. Every other character does, but the thing that gives them hope is what makes each character arc distinct from the others.
Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) clutches the thought of his mother, making him the most hopeful character since he is being forcefully held from his drugs and still has thoughts of a peaceful life. Although the movie shared a theme with Trainspotting in conveying the frightful easiness of slipping into addiction with the story of Sara (Ellen Burstyn), Darren Aronofsky himself said that Tyrone is the only character with hope of escape.
Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is similar in that she has something that gives her hope, but different in that she has completely abandoned her life. She curls herself around the heroin she went to such desperate measures to get her hands on, showing how drugs are her salvation from her new life even though they are the cause.
The film concludes with perhaps the most depressing character arc in the movie, which is that of Sara Goldfarb. Solidifying the heart-breaking monologue she gives earlier, the thing she holds on to is the fantasy of appearing on television. She knows this will never happen, but the thought of it comforts her. Within this fantasy, her son Harry is implied to have married his girlfriend Marion and appears well-dressed and happy. Him and his mother tell each other they love each other, and the film fades to its end credits. What makes this character arc the most depressing out of all of the others is that her son's life and their relationship being healthy is within the fantasy of her appearing on television. This suggests that her son loving her and vice versa is just as outlandish as her television fantasy. That notion is emphasized further by Sara smiling, but tears running down her eyes can be seen.
The way Aronofsky presented the film's wrap-up is the major highlight of his directorial talents within this movie. He knew to convey more ideas visually than what is shown through dialogue and the actors' performances, making this movie's presentation of the subject matter all the more complex. Although it is a film that had me emotionally drained long after seeing it, I cannot deny that it is excellently crafted.