Requiem For A Dream

"Very Good"

Requiem For A Dream Review


Forget every movie you've ever seen about the downward spiral of drug addiction. "Drugstore Cowboy," "Sid and Nancy," "Trainspotting," "Permanent Midnight," and more recently "Jesus' Son" -- these films are almost as innocuous as "Alice in Wonderland" compared to "Requiem for a Dream."

Director Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to the uniquely mind-bending mathematical-theological thriller "Pi," this adaptation of a 1978 novel by Hubert Selby Jr. is a soul-rattling, cerebral and cinematically ingenious runaway train of gruesome overindulgence.

Set against the forlorn backdrop of a deteriorating Coney Island, "Requiem" stars a rail-thin Jared Leto ("Fight Club," "Girl, Interrupted") as Harry, a minor-league heroin dealer who has already copped a bad habit for his own product. As the movie opens he's broken into his mother's apartment to steal her TV -- which is chained to the wall because it's not the first time this has happened -- so he can pawn it to pay for a hit.

His mother (Ellen Burstyn) -- who cowers in a closet as her son ransacks her home -- is a lonely, ungracefully aging, threadbare woman with addictions of her own. From a deep cranny in her recliner, she watches self-help infomercials all day long and pops under-the-counter diet pills by the handful.

Even though it's painfully clear these are, at the very least, damaged people, Aronofsky deliberately gives the picture a misleading air of heroin chic at first. He introduces Harry's carefree best friend (Marlon Wayans, in a surprising solid dramatic performance) and his beautiful, urbane girlfriend (the under-rated Jennifer Connelly) with whom he has a powerful romantic bond. (In a poignant scene of intimacy, Aronofsky creatively splits the screen to show a close-up of tender caress on one half, and the rapturous facial reaction on the other.)

We know they're all junkies, but they're attractive, healthy junkies with dreams for the future that appear to be within grasp.

Then Aronofsky pulls the rug out from the characters and the audience, using it to drag all of us down a dark flight of stairs and into a harrowing dungeon of chemical dependency.

Shooting up slowly becomes a several-times-a-day routine for Harry and company as they get yoked to their devouring need for drugs. Heroin deals misfire and savings goes up in smoke. Marion (Connelly) begins trading her body (and with it her fragile self-esteem) for a fix, sometimes at the urging of her once-protective love, who promises "just this once."

Meanwhile, Harry's mother is descending into her own erratic, eventually hallucinogenic, parallel purgatory. Her weight loss drugs are essentially nothing but a dangerous mix of speed and amphetamines that she's begun combining randomly in back-to-back doses that send her mind into a waking nightmare from which she can't escape.

It's not just that these scenes are hard to watch. It's that "Requiem" becomes a horror movie of genuine horrors (infected needles, traumatic aberrations, lascivious sexual indignities) amplified ten-fold by Aronofsky's psyche-plumbing, genius-level reinvention of the cinematic drug trip. Yet it's exactly this unhinged brilliance and visionary retooling of the genre which makes it impossible to look away no matter how graphic and grisly things get.

Matching Aronofsky's consecrated focus on the project, his entire cast give nothing short of profound performances, immersing themselves in their characters' disquieting subconscious minds.

Leto inspires pained commiseration as he drives hopped-up, paranoid Harry off a metaphorical cliff at 100 miles per hour. Connelly inspires solemn pity as Marion debases herself in a drug-fueled orgy after her habit has consumed her every resource. And Burstyn seizes the heart of the movie with a astonishing, plaintive, forlorn performance that gives way to chaos and bewildered disorientation as her character's brittle mental state is sent into fierce convulsions by her inadvertently haphazard diet drug cocktails.

In the early going, the film has some trouble finding its footing, in part just because Aronofsky's methods are such a departure from customary filmmaking that it's hard to understand what he's aiming for at times. When a refrigerator lurches out of its kitchen nook and heaves at Burstyn in a hallucination, is it supposed to be scary or funny, or both? Why do these dope fiends seem (at first anyway) so handsome and robust?

It should be noted also that if it were not for Aronofsky's innovative sense of visual kinetics and cinematic power, the story wouldn't be all that compelling until the third act. But "Requiem" is exhaustively different right up to the closing credits, which is why you'll leave the theater very shaken but at the same time spectacularly impressed.



Requiem For A Dream

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th October 2000

Box Office USA: $2.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $7.4M

Budget: $4.5M

Distributed by: Artisan Entertainment

Production compaines: Artisan Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 104 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 8.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Sara Goldfarb, as Harry Goldfarb, as Marion Silver, as Tyrone C. Love, as Tappy Tibbons, as Ada, as Rae, Janet Sarno as Mrs. Pearlman, as Mrs. Scarlini, as Mr. Rabinowitz

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Advertisement
Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

It's Only the End of the World Movie Review

At just 27 years old, Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan has an almost overwhelming set of...

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.