Requiem for a Dream

Poster
2000
Darren Aronofsky

10/10

This is quite simply one of the best films ever made. Whatever your opinion after viewing, you must at least give it credit for being effective (regardless of what that effect exactly is). It is one of the most powerful, intense movie-going experiences you will ever have.

That much is generally recognized by audiences and critics alike, for better or worse, so I’m going to focus more on the technical and emotional aspect of the film. Regardless of content, this is quite frankly a technically perfect film. On top of that it’s an utterly complete filmgoing experience. If anyone has seen a movie that better synchronizes sound with visuals, I humbly request you to post a comment here, because I haven’t. It is the most perfect audio-visual synthesis that I’ve ever seen in my life (especially the climactic “Winter” chapter). One of my absolute favorite moments in all of moviedom comes when Tyrone is screaming from his cell and the camera vibrates along with his scream. It is just amazing. Aronofsky displays his directorial skill in the way that he systematically shortens the scenes as the end of the film approaches, to give it a more intense, frenzied pace. Coupled with the increased tempo of the unforgettable soundtrack, the technique practically guarantees that you’ll be clawing into the armrest as you watch.

Emotionally, you cannot get much more powerful than “Requiem.” It is not at all uplifting or even hopeful, but that does not keep it from being beautiful. You can describe this movie in one line, and I believe Aronofsky has even said this (although I now forget where): This is the story of people vs. addiction, and addiction wins. Each time I watch, it breaks my heart once more, and I also appreciate that much more all of the minute details. The bulk of the emotional impact comes in the harrowing finale, the last twenty minutes or so when everything is crumbling to pieces. I dare you as a viewer to watch Harry’s last phone call with Marion and remain unaffected. But do yourself a favor as well and don’t neglect Tyrone’s character. His story is just as tragic, and the image of him as a child running to his mother in the big armchair is powerful. When the same image fades onto the screen toward the end, while he’s huddled in the prison cell, it’s a master stroke.

Of course the emotional impact would have been null without tremendous acting, and Aronofsky was lucky enough to work with such gifted talent. Jared Leto doesn’t have to do all that much but he does it passably. The aforementioned phone call would be nothing without his and Jennifer Connelly’s talent. Marlon Wayans is a revelation, and of course Ellen Burstyn was shafted by the “Academy” for her performance in this role, only because those idiots consistently make a habit of overlooking the people who actually deserve the award (she lost to Erin freakin’ Brokovich).

To put it bluntly: If you are okay with not seeing one of the best movies ever made just because you’re scared it will be “too intense”, then by all means do not see this film. Otherwise, there’s no excuse!

22 March 2010

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