Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Requiem For a Dream (2000)

TOP 100 FILMS: #33

Four interlinked friends/loved ones deal with the struggles of drug addiction in a variety of forms, all seeking to escape their meager existence.

Some movies you watch once and forget. Some movies you just never forget. For me, Requiem for a Dream is the latter. Dark, slow, methodical, painful, emotional, visually eye dropping, Requiem is not for your entertainment seekers. It takes its time with characters you won't much like. It forces you to see the harsh side of drug addiction, and as such no viewer every truly "enjoys" it. Instead its in Aronofsky's ability to make you not enjoy while not making you hate it that the true genius of this film lies.

All of the four leads: Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connolly, Jared Leto, & Marlon Wayans represent a variety of characters, each with their own underlying problems that have lead to their current state. Aronofsky takes his time with exploring these character defects, and what paths it leads them down in life, and ultimately the tragic consequences of their inability to change. Yet each dark, depressing, and soul wrenching move is a calculative effort from Aronofsky and Selby in order to deliver their message to the viewer, and they do so in full.

As some have pointed out, Requiem for a Dream is probably more of a horror than a dark drama. Though instead of a monster or a serial killer, our offender is heroin, a beast our main characters' cannot escape. Their desire to find easy ways out of their circumstances is met with harsh backlash, and a sense of pain. In order to counter such painful visuals, Aronofsky put together a director's haven of cinematography and a soundtrack to die for. These slight changes make Requiem for a Dream captivating enough to sit through, but alas never really something you'd want to pop in on a Saturday night. On some level this movie will never appeal to everyone, and will be outright hated by many, but it's importance in modern cinema, and society, in showing a realistic display of drug use, is something I cannot overlook.

Dark, visually captivating, but hardly enjoyable, Requiem for a Dream is a masterful look at the harsh reality of various forms of drug addiction.

8 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Nifty review. I chickened out, but feel like I shouldn't be talking this film up to people so much as I should be warning them about it...

...in a good way.

Alfindeol said...

I remember a time, after a recent move, my step father and I watched Requiem for a Dream 3 times in 48 hours because we had no cable and no other movies available. Needless to say, that was a very depressing weekend.

The movie is probably the scariest film made in the last ten years. I don't know if that's an amazing achievement for Requiem or an example of how bad modern horror is.

Danny King said...

Such a brilliant film. Easily among my favorite of the decade. How you are able to order your 100 favorite films of all-time is beyond me, but it's a great accomplishment.

blake said...

I like how you touched on the importance of the film. Concerning cultural relevance, there isn't much in the last 10 years that can compare to this film.

Fantastic review.

Univarn said...

@Mad it's ok, I understand. Like I said, some films you just never really forget.

@Alfindeol I would not be able to handle that. If I go anywhere I always have movies in supply just for such instances!

@Danny It's not that hard. Just start with the ones you're most passionate about. Then work your way through your mid-range passions until you complete the list!

@blake thanks! I agree rather wholeheartedly it's hard to find a film with as much impact in the last few years.

Ciaran O'Brien said...

I love Aronofsky and this has to be his finest to date. I actually really enjoy sitting through it and did watch it on a Friday night only 2 weeks ago. Although I'm not sure what that says about me!

Fey said...

I think that one of the things that made this film so impressinve from a production standpoint is that they were never afraid to take risks. They tried som very different things with the soundtrack, the editing, and the cinematography. It really feels fresh and I appreciate it for that.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

This one cracked my Top 20, and yet I have a hard time saying I "love it." Is "Requiem" really the kind of movie you can love? Probably not, but I appreciate the techniques Aronofsky uses to get his point across. Burstyn and Connelly give flat-out stunning performances; in fact, I'm still a little bit too pissed (considering it's been 10 YEARS) that Julia Roberts won the Oscar over Burstyn.

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