on 15 July 2002
I can honestly say this is the only film i have seen that had the power to change my thinking and outlook on life. Ever since i first saw it the characters, imagery and emotion of the piece have remained with me. Every aspect of this film is a triumph. Each of the four leading actors are stupendous and in my view both Connelly and especially Burstyn were robbed of oscars that were rightfully theirs.
There are many great films, but what separates the great from the truly great are those that are completely unique, as is this one. I purchased this dvd on a limb and unsure what to expect, but from the outset the picture showed me a new cinematic language in its montage imagery, pacing, editing and what is surely one of the most brutally moving scores ever composed.
Aside from these, the film is unique in its honesty. Yes it is supremely dark in its subject matter and climax and thank god for it. For too long Hollywood has felt the need to produce pleasant, hopeful comfort film and neglected from portraying what is in many cases the unpleasant reality of life for so many people. In the real world lives get messed up and they dont always get better, sometimes they stay messed up, and finally we have a director, writer and studio prepared to admit this. The result is a film that many will reject and despise, because it challenges the shell that protects us and our enclosed existence from the reality of what is all around us, but a film that ought to be experienced, and treasured by those who appreciate what makes a great film.
To see 'requiem for a dream' is draining, exhausting and exhilarating, but it is not depressing. Several times i have watched this picture and found myself strangely uplifted, a downbeat emotion that very few films have ever aroused in me. You will not so much 'watch' this film as experience it and its power. It is a brief but heightened assault on the senses, and with brilliant acting, scripting, characterisation, imagery, poetic narrative and musical force, modern films come no better than this.
on 14 January 2008
I was lent this movie by a friend who had watched it and recently bought it. As soon as I put it on I was absolutely at the mercy of this unflinching onslaught of a movie. It is brilliantly written, directed and acted. It wishes to hit home the dangers of drugs, both hard and even more socially acceptable ones. It did its job with visceral zeal and after the credits rolled, I felt completely wrung out emotionally. I think it is a fantastic film and one I never wish to see again. I don't need to, I got the message! Incidentally, my friend and I were talking about a list, published by some film institute, of great movies that you would only want to see once, and I said immediately that I bet Requiem was on it. He laughed and said it was around number 3 and actually come to mention it, he hadn't watched it once after buying it. Here endeth the lesson.
on 20 December 2008
A Requiem is a mass for the departed. This movie's title, Requiem For A Dream, should give you an idea of the themes it contains. It tells the story of four people who's lives are destroyed by addiction. Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) plan to make it big by selling drugs. Harry's loving girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) has visions of designing clothes. Harry's lonely mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn) is given a reason to be happy after recieving an invite to take part in a TV show. She embarks on a mission to lose weight to fit into her favourite red dress for the occasion. Her doctor prescribes pills to aid the weight loss. These are people who had hopes and dreams of a better life. Dreams that they sacrifice bit by bit for the short term fix of a drug or other vice. There's a powerfull sense of loss at the end. The loss of the lives these people should have had. During one scene in the film Marlon Wayans' character reflects on a moment he had with his mother as a child. Sitting on her lap, little Tyrone confidently promises her that he'll make it big.
I found this film to be intense and moving. The performances from the four leads are strong. We see the lives of the four characters through short, sometimes jarring, scenes. The performances are effective because at the start of the film they are people with a plan for life ahead. As it all slowly ebbs away, the increasingly dark tone of the film is reflected excellently in thier performances.
The film is scored by Clint Mansell. The main theme, Lux Aeterna, is a brilliant piece of music that fits the film perfectly. It's now quite famous and has featured in several films, trailers and such since Requiem For A Dream's release. The score really takes this film to another level. I think that the theme in this film is something many people will relate to. Requiem For A Dream is one of those films that everybody should watch.
on 25 March 2007
I found this DVD as a recommendation whilst searching for others and liked the sound of the reviews so I thought I would give it a go. I like a film to leave me with something and Requiem for a Dream certainly did this. Its fantastic, shocking, compelling, exicting and drepressing all at the same time. Its very well acted, espeically Ellen Burstyn's performance as a mother neglected by her drug addicted son with an addiction to television and eventually her own drug, dodgy diet pills. The visuals are amazing, they draw you in like a bad dream and the ending left me with a lump in my throat which I kept pondering for days. I would recommend this film to anyone however, would warn that if you are easily distrubed proceed with caution. Amazing!
on 28 June 2003
This is one hell of a bleak film, but as long as you can watch it (some people I know couldn’t sit through it), it is an absolute masterpiece. It’s an adaption of a book by Hubert Selby Jr. about the various addictions of four people (an elderly widow, her son, his girlfriend and his best friend) , be they to drugs, television, or even the hope of a better tomorrow, in Brooklyn, New York. So far, so Trainspotting you might think. However, the two films are actually very different, not least in terms of visual style. In this aspect, Requiem For A Dream is streets ahead of it’s British counterpart. The director Darren Aronofsky, a native of Brooklyn himself, has done a first class job here, using a variety of different techniques, including split screens, time lapse photography and speeded up montages. In the commentary on the DVD, he said he wanted to avoid making an MTV-style film, but that’s what it looks like. This is by no means a criticism, though, the film looks absolutely fantastic, but I see no sense in denying its style.
As well as the superb cinematography, the film also contains some superb performances from its four stars Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connolly and Marlon Wayans. Indeed, Burstyn was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, though she didn’t win. It is also nice to see Leto in a role where he has more to do than look handsome.
This film is not one to watch when you are feeling a bit down, as it is not in the least bit cheery. I promise it will make you feel worse, as it is heartbreakingly sad to see the lives of the protagonists completely unravelling before their eyes, whilst they keep believing things are soon going to get better. Things don’t get better, they reach rock bottom for all of the characters. No redemption, no happy ending, just one of the best films of the last ten years. Absolutely essential.
Requiem for a Dream shows the terrible effects of drug addiction on a boy and his mother, living in a run down neighbourhood on Coney Island.
The boy, his friend and girlfriend are junkies, resorting to petty crime in order to get their fixes. The mother becomes addicted to slimming pills after mistakenly believing she had been invited to be a contestant on her favourite game show. Living on her own with nothing else to occupy her mind, she becomes obsessed with fitting into a particular red dress in time for the show. Sadly, she is the only person who cannot see that she is the victim of a hoax. The boy has his own ambition; to buy a large supply of heroin and get rich dealing. We have seen stories like his on films like Trainspotting and the Basketball Diaries but Requiem for a Dream is interesting because it shows the downward spiral of mother and son simultaneously. He is eventually arrested along with his friend, leaving his girlfriend to resort to prostitution to feed her growing habit. His mother gradually loses all touch with reality and becomes a gibbering wreck. There is no happy ending for any of the characters. We see the boy's infected needle tracks in his arm worsen whilst his girlfriend subjects herself to the ultimate degradation. Meanwhile his mother is carted off to a psychatric facility to spend the rest of her days drooling and imagining her gameshow appearance.
It's a very depressing film but beautifully shot and acted. The hallucinatory visuals are hard to take in sometimes but it makes for a very effective tale on the horrors of drug addiction.
Like this? Try: Spun
on 26 July 2007
This is an intelligent film. The score has emerged as one of the most recognisable pieces of music of our age, and is subtley changed in a minimalistic style throughout the film. IT IS NOT REPEATED. Anyone thinking this and finding themselves irritated by it should really pay a little more attention.
The film isn't so much about the 'drugs are bad' issue. Requiem for a Dream concentrates more on characters linked together by their use of drugs - both illegal and legal substances.
The film has some brilliant and poignantly designed sets, that are really used to their best potential by some magnificent acting. Leto delivers an almost flawless performance, and is to be commended for avoiding the 'puppy-dog-eyes-help-me-i'm-doing-my-best' stance.
In fact, my copy was borrowed months ago, and has never been returned...
on 29 January 2005
My god. Where to start with this? Darren Aronofsky's follow up to indie hit Pi could be one of the most brilliant and emotional films ever. Aronofsky has managed to adapt Hubert Selby Jr's magnanimous novel to the big screen - and he's done a superb job of it.
The cast is amazing. Ellen Burstyn's TV addicted, speed taking mother was robbed of an Oscar by Julia Roberts' frumpy, irritating Erin Brokovich. She gives one of the most emotional performances you will ever see, her passionate monologue about what it's like to be old, and her paranoid acting makes you truly believe that acting is an art. Jared Leto, as her drug addicted son, also gives very worthy performance as does Jennifer Connely as his girlfriend. Marlon Wayans, too, delivers an amazing and serious performance that belies his slapstick comedy notoriety.
But this is a director's film; Aronofsky pulls out every directing trick in the book to make this a truly original experience. The shot of an overjoyed Sara Goldfarb as she runs out of her apartment and walks across the street with her old female friends as the camera swoons in front of them, creating a strangely eerie shot is one example. But it is the editing that shines, Aronofsky never leaves the viewer board with his unique style of hiphop montage editing and special effects.
The music in this film also shines, the classical score is wonderfully composed and highly dramatic in a film which demands it so heavily.
Although disturbing, this is a film that everyone should see, it is full of great acting, editing and truly memorable story.
on 1 February 2007
Requiem for a Dream tracks the lives of four central characters: a young boy, his girlfriend, his mother and his best friend/partner in crime. The boy uses heroin, dope and coke; the girlfriend and best friend similarly. The mother is retired and spends all day watching gameshows.
Initially, the film showcases them as beautiful, hopeful people, illuminating their quiet moments and their deepest desires. Then, they begin to plan and make tracks: the girlfriend's habit grows stronger, making her dependent on the boy, who in the meantime is trying to amass money with his friend to buy a kilo of pure. The mother has received a typical bogus offer to appear on the gameshow she constantly watches and is trying to lose weight, eventually resorting to pills prescribed by a private doctor.
An interesting parallel begins to emerge between the mother's shut-in lifestyle and son's high-octane street one: both prisoners, both addicts, and both clinging to dreams that start to slip through their fingers.
Things quickly go wrong in a hellish downward spiral: the mother becomes addicted to the pills, and begins hallucinating (her doctors are apathetic and ignore her); the boy and his friend get arrested, the former with a heavily infected arm; the girlfriend resorts to prostitution in his absence to get money for her fixes. It goes further and further down this line, and there is no happy ending.
It's not a bad film, though. True, it will probably make you cry or vomit, but the camerawork is superb, the acting utterly believable, and the erosion of their lives is perfectly choreographed, growing more and more frantic and culminating in a head-spinning whirl of mortifying images from each character's personal hell. It's assisted by brilliant music, semi-orchestral, semi-techno filler that grows more discordant and confused as the characters' lives do. It's a winning effect.
So, while not a film you'll watch twice (unless you're a sucker for punishment), it's a film you should really see once. It captures the futility and corruption of drug addiction, street crime and prostitution in a way that makes Snatch look like Cinderella. Just don't recommend it to anyone who's overly sensitive or young.
on 25 August 2015
It's 2015 now, and I've only just seen this. So this review is that far out of date. Having seen Trainspotting, Limitless and others like, 'H', how does this 'drug' movie compare. This stands out on its own. There's no comparison to Trainspotting, but I wouldn't say this is a superior movie at all, Trainspotting is more depressing than this and had a much better soundtrack. This is just beautifully surreal and more about pure addiction -b/c the other person (Ellen Burstyn) is addicted to diet pills - as fed to her by the TV advertisers who are addicted to consumers who are in-turn addicted to consumption and around in circles we go as the tax payers foot the hospital bills. One thing I would say too, is that this is called Requiem for a Dream, and not Requiem from a dream - I think that's a crucial thing too.
Ellen Burstyn is trying to lose weight. She sees this show on tv and gets addicted to it, and what it's offering. She starts taking four different coloured diet pills. But before she knows it, she's hooked and her life slowly but surely turns upside down. I loved the fridge with the teeth scene. Then we have junkies Jennifer Connolly, pretty boy Jared Leto (who lost massive amounts of weight to play the part) and the super cool Marlon Wayans. Their lives slowly come apart as the drugs mess with their heads. They think they can stay in control. But it never works out that way and we get to see the consequences right here.
This movie is more about consumption addiction, as well as plain old drug addiction. As well as showing the downside in a horrible way of how drugs can screw you up in every way. I've previously worked in an A&E, and I've seen first hand what this movie shows. It wasn't pleasant to say the least.
But this movie was fantastic to watch, even though it was harrowing and surreal. I am glad I bought it, and will watch it many times over. The other thing is I found that this is not preachy in any way, it's the least formulaic or documentary sort of thing, 'the dangers of drugs' etc. there's none of that at all. This was an experience watching the movie, like there is drinking too much booze, the movie itself is like a drug, we watch it, it effects us, and we discuss it in a profound way. But it's just a movie. It's not bad for our health in the same sense as the subject matter of it.
The manic nature of the close-ups of Burstyn scenes and how the TV penetrates every aspect of our lives, locked in every corner in every fornt room, in every household - is that TV - with its advertising. The sense of panic generated in the faces of the addicts is something to behold. We see in graphic detail of a dead vein in Leto's arm, we see the things they have to do to get a hit and a fix. The sweating, the compulsion, the obsessiveness of them and how they eventually lose it.
We are the consumer, being consumed. I could go on and on.... but will stop there...it's painful and harrowing to watch, but enjoy.