Friday, September 20, 2013

Movie Review - Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Take a tour through the intensifying horror of consuming addiction.  Requiem for a Dream follows the lives of four individuals who use drugs on Coney Island.  As their dependency grows, their relationships start to set them apart.  Each person develops their own unique brand of personal hell.

All of Darren Aronofsky's past work has an underlying theme of obsession.  In Black Swan, a ballerina puts everything including her mental stability on the line for the pursuit of perfection.  In The Fountain, a doctor struggles through space and time to cure death.  In Pi, a mathematician pushes the limits researching a number that could serve as the blueprint of the universe.  Requiem for a Dream is no exception, following Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly), and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) as they live out the life of heroin addicts.  Harry's mother (Oscar nominated Ellen Burstyn) finds herself on a different fix, but the outcomes of all four characters are horrible and painful to watch.

The style of the film is polished and cut frequently (it has more than double the cuts of an average movie).  One of  the most distinguishing aesthetics of Requiem for a Dream is the clever use of split screen.  The dual screen isn't presented to show collages of multiple actions in plot, but to illustrate the mental divide between each person.  Even though a connection seems to be present in certain scenes, the characters are separated by their true motives and growing individual dependencies.

As beautifully and creatively put together this film is (the soundtrack is iconic as well), it is ironic that the majority of people watching already know the horrors of doing hard drugs.  Requiem would be far more effective as a movie about self destructive substances to teens, but because of the explicit sex, language and violence it will never happen.  If it were to be used in place of drug education videos, you certainly wouldn't see a classroom of sleepy eyed students waiting for the bell to ring.


*Reviewer's note:  The format of the movie on Netflix is 4:3 ratio (or old box TV format for the layman) but nothing is cropped.  In fact, you are seeing the full captured film prior to when the bottom and top are cropped to fit in widescreen.  The film was intended to be widescreen, so this format on Netflix is quite puzzling.

Requiem for a Dream is available for stream on Netflix

Unrated.  Contains intense depiction of drug addiction, graphic sexuality, strong language and some violence


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