banner image

:: Requiem For A Dream

Every so often there is a film that demands attention and leaves you reeling. Darren Aronofsky’s “Requiem For A Dream” is one of the most darkest and forceful anti-drug narratives ever shown on film. Hopes and dreams are shattered as an almost clinical depiction of lives is laid to waste. You will feel beaten down and worn out. Yet, you can’t help but continue watching it. 

This increasingly grim story follows four dreamers. Firstly there is a pair of young male junkies, Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), who are hoping to score one big hit. Then there is Harry’s girlfriend and fellow drug user Marion (Jennifer Connelly) who looks stunningly sexy as ever. Finally, there is Harry’s television-addicted mother Sara Goldfarb, who believes she might be called up to be a contestant on her favourite game show. The central figure is Harry, a young man whose every dollar saved or stolen goes towards something he can inject into his veins. He and Tyrone want to be successful dealers and he aims to help Marion, in her dreams to be a fashion designer, open a clothing store. The casting of comedian Wayans as one of the addicts is interesting. Don’t expect any comic relief from him here.

Aronofsky skilfully explores this world and creates a hypnotic portrait of extreme drug addiction and how bad choices affect their families, friendships, and their own lives. Each of the three young drug addicts shut out the real world, and Aronofsky emphasises the surreal nature of an addict’s state of mind. He takes us there cleverly. Marion is even more disconnected than her male friends. Her character’s transition from uppity rich girl to a down-and-out junkie is remarkably portrayed. 

Meanwhile Sara just wishes to be proud of her son and to appear on television in the same red dress that she wore to his high school graduation. She panics when she sees that she’s now overweight to get into the dress. She is then turned on to a shady doctor who prescribes her diet pills without any proper examination. Each of these characters needs love and acceptance, and audiences will relate strongly to that. There are some specific acts of depravity in the film’s last sequence as each character goes on an extreme downward spiral. It will horrify some people. The more gripping scenarios are the ones that affect our emotions rather than our queasy stomachs.

All the principal actors – Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans – are at the top of their game, and all probably give the performances of their life. They are simply fantastic. Burstyn gives a devastating and courageous performance, arguably the finest of her great career. Her timing is excellent in the subtlety displayed. Connelly exudes sexual charisma and playful rebelliousness in baring all for the degradation of her character, and holds herself easily alongside Burstyn. Leto and Wayans give better than expected performances in wonderful dramatic roles. 

One must commend the incredible camera work throughout. Aronofsky and his team pull no stops. There are dramatic close-ups and split screens, and most scenes could be stopped and photos plucked out for placement in a book of art. “Requiem For A Dream” is the most powerfully disturbing movie of recent times. In showing the dastardly effects that such addictions cause, it should inspire an attitude of hoping never to witness such dreadfulness again. The film is explicit (justifying its rating) and unforgettable and, above all, profoundly moving to be one of this year’s early highlights.