Fantasy mixes with the harsh reality of addiction and the desire for hope in Requiem for a Dream
. Beginning at the dawn of a new summer in Coney Island, the film charts the relationship of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) and her son Harry (Jared Leto)--two characters who are lost with in a world of the self-absorbed desire to feed their addictions at the cost of hope and love. With a sublime score
(performed by the Kronos Quartet) accompanying some intense visual imagery, the film sets up an almost fairy-tale wash over the characters' lives, with every hit of their chosen drug turning them into beautiful people surrounded by a haze which enhances all their features. However, unlike films such as Trainspotting
which turn the dream into a nightmare then end with a huge dose of hope, Requiem for a Dream
forces the viewer through all loss of hope and the descending madness of reality, as winter begins.
Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to the critically acclaimed Pi is a movie which exposes not only the terror caused by addiction of any kind--be it TV or Heroin--but also offers a powerful insight into the destruction caused by the desire to achieve "the American Dream". Based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr, the film sacrifices dialogue in favour of imagery and movement: the editing and cinematography are reminiscent of MTV, however the movie takes this very aggressive style and moulds it to its own needs, adding a beautifully haunting narrative and powerful performances by its four main characters (Burstyn just missing out on an Oscar for Best female lead to Julia Roberts). Ultimately the viewer is left with a sense of desperation and despair: Requiem for a Dream exposes drugs and addiction in the most powerful and truthful way a film has ever managed, leaving no stone unturned.
On the DVD: This disc is bursting with excellent special features. The anamorphic widescreen picture makes the most of the film's stylish visuals, and the soundtrack offers choice of either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. As well as offering the obligatory theatrical trailer, scene selection and a fantastic director's commentary, there's also a "making-of" featurette, TV trailers charting the reviews and success of the film, an "Anatomy of a scene", and a wide range of deleted scenes. By far the best feature is Hubert Selby Jr's interview with Ellen Burstyn, which offers the writer a chance to put across not just his opinions on his work but also on life as a whole. All these features are placed within an impressively formatted menu. --Nikki Disney
Darren Aronofsky follows up his acclaimed debut Pi with this gritty, emotionally charged film set amidst the abandoned beaches and faded glory of Coney Island, Brooklyn. Based upon the novel by celebrated author Hubert Selby Jr., the story intricately links the lives of a lonely widowed mother (Academy Award Winner Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his beautiful girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). Requiem for a Dream is a hypnotic tale of four human beings each pursuing their vision of happiness. Even as everything begins to fall apart, they refuse to let go, plummeting with their dreams into a nightmarish, gut-wrenching freefall.