Requiem for a Dream

There’s probably a myriad of reasons why Requiem for a Dream is a stunning masterpiece, but I am simply not enlightened enough to see why. Maybe it’s because drugs in cinema aren’t my thing, or because I have very little sympathy for the characters. In any case, I couldn’t care less about this movie, but since so many people do, I’ve decided to write about it anyway.

requiem-for-a-dream

This brainless film depicts a drug addict Harry (Jared Leto) along with his mate Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and mother Sarah (Ellen Burstyn), as they all succumb to drug abuse. In fact, at the start of the film, the first three are already junkies; we don’t see how they have arrived at that state, meaning that I don’t sympathise with them at the beginning of the film. The fact that they fuck it up by the end seems like a natural fitting conclusion. I’m all but glad it happened to them. More interesting is the mother, now a widow, who spends most of her day alone in her apartment following a strict diet and fantasising about being on television. She receives a call, or at least believes she does, that she’s going to appear on one of her favourite shows and tries to lose weight fast. To help with the weight loss, she takes pills that her son advises her against. These pills make her paranoid and schizophrenic, and at the end she is a mess just like everyone else. A pity that this story takes up less than a third of the movie, when the rest is such garbage.

Now for some technical details. There were a few aspects of this film that should have deterred me from watching it right from the very beginning. Indeed, the only reason I did watch it was to tick off another film in the 1001 Movies book.

  • The film was directed by Darren Aronofsky. Yes, he may have given the world the most awesome sex scene ever in Black Swan, but really I can’t say I’m a massive fan. This film was directed right after he made π, another movie I absolutely detest. The man seems to have lots of style but very little substance.
  • The lead star is Jared Leto, who infamously – on this site at least – portrayed Basil in Basil. His acting wasn’t great then, and it wasn’t great now. Don’t you just want to smack that stupid gormless face?

Nevertheless, there were parts that I liked simply for their aesthetic value – Aronofsky’s style, not his substance. The soundtrack, whilst repetitive, did actually come into its own near the end of the film with dynamic changes as a form of leitmotif. That was cool. The brief film clips whenever someone took drugs was also rather fun and quirky and also unique too. The use of split-screen cameras didn’t seem necessary at all, but once again, looked cool.

requiem1

Nevertheless, I still wish I hadn’t given myself such a difficult challenge of watching all the movies in that confounded book. Some of them are great, but others, like this one and The Jerk make the challenge such a chore. What really pains me about this movie is how dreadfully dull the moral is. To get the same message that I did from this film, save yourself some time and watch the clip below.

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5 thoughts on “Requiem for a Dream

  1. Think not about the generic film recipe in which characters goes through an uplifting development designed to make the majority of viewers empathize and relate to them.

    My view on this film is that it attacks modern society, It is about obsession, and how although drugs are seen to be taken by some isolated part of society and we can wash our hands of those people, you’ve got to see the parallels between the mother and son.

    You’ve got to feel so sad for the mother, who is obsessed with TV, watches the same programme without fail, is obsessed with becoming thin enough to be able to go onto television, and is completely sucked in to the point of going insane by the idea that she will get on the programme. But is this not true of the majority of the population? The mother represents most of society, and her addiction to drugs did not fall from some seedy nightclub… but a legitimate legal path.

    This film is not glamorizing the drug scene and it offers no happy ending. It is simply a statement highlighting the way that society can fuel addiction, obsession, bad role models, unrealistic body images etc etc.

    I actually think as cult films go, this is easy to relate to, you don’t need to have any ‘in’ knowledge of the drug scene, it has some fairly obvious references and the story line clearly illustrates the message.

    I am surprised that you based your review entirely on the shallow plot line of the characters? To me, the film is crawling with themes and statements and even if you know nothing about drugs surely this is easy to see? This film might be a bit of a ‘chore’ like you say… but if you are watching films to switch your brain off then I suggest you watch channel 4’s selection of game shows and help yourself to some pills. The beauty of a good film is depth. and not to mention some great use of music.

    • Hey Soph, I understand that in real life drugs aren’t only taken by ‘some isolated part of society’ but in this movie, we don’t even see how Harry becomes a drug addict, so I don’t get the chance to sympathise with him. He is rather isolated from me.
      This is kind of why I love the mother’s story, because she took drugs rather inadvertently and she did it as a rather subtle and unconcious form of self harm to ease her pain over the loss of her husband and her crippling loneliness.
      As for any other themes and statements, they simply didn’t leap out at me, but then again, I did say that there are probably loads of reasons why this is a good film and just I can’t see it 😉 For myself at this time though, it’s not a good film 😛 if that makes sense. It’s just an opinion, and I’m glad yours differs from mine, as we can discuss what we think.

      • A very non committal response! Wish I could change your mind on this subject!!! But I think I said enough 🙂

  2. I just also have to refer to your comment ‘didn’t seem neccesary’ vis a vis screen shots. I actually am just wondering how you think the film industry can ever evolve if they stick to the same old screen shots? Where is your head Basil!!!! we need INNOVATION, CREATIVITY, something a bit different? Surely films are meant to tickle our imagination, and try new things, i just don’t think films should be so restricted to the rules that this film broke, and you seemed shocked?..

    • Point is that occasionally the split screens work, e.g. when the camera focuses on the mother and the fridge. At other times though, it seems completely pointless when just one camera would do. I don’t see films as a reason to just experiment with a camera without any kind of forethought. I want there to be artistic direction. Once again, it may just be that I don’t see it, but this seems to happen a lot with Aronofsky.

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