Review: Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream is one film I’ve wanted to see for ages. The feedback I’d heard was very positive though strangely my knowledge of the film’s plot was basic to say the least. All I was assured of was this was going to be a gritty experience and certainly not a comedy. Naturally, I was excited and at the same time terrified about what the film would have to offer.
Four characters are at the heart of Requiem for a Dream. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is an elderly widow whose life revolves around the television. Her son, Harry (Jared Leto), is a heroin addict, as is his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). The film’s traces the four characters painful falls as they become consumed by their respective drug addictions with some faring better than others by the time the end is nigh.
Sara’s story is a tragic one. She tolerates her son constantly stealing her television to be sold to by drugs before she simply buys it back. Sara lives for the television and one day she receives a call inviting her to apply to be on a quiz show. It’s a life-changing moment. Sara has a purpose in life. She wants to look younger and wear the same red dress she wore to her son’s graduation, the dress her late husband loved to see her in. The problem is that Sara can’t fit into the dress anymore so goes to the doctor for some amphetamine pills to aid her weight loss. Sara becomes the talk of the apartment block she’s in but when her invitation onto television fails to arrive her intake of pills increases as do her hallucinations.
Requiem for a Dream does not celebrate drug abuse, it offers a very brutal reflection of what it can and will do to you if it takes hold. Sara’s story is painful to watch, seeing a lonely widow completely lost to her drugs is appalling while Marion has to give up everything to remain on drugs. Harry and Tyrone stick together throughout the film, always hoping for good times ahead, but they only find suffering around every corner. This is not a film with any happy endings. The outlook for all four characters is bleak in the end. This would be great material to put anyone off taking drugs, just as Trainspotting did so well back in 1996. The four characters are all privileged with some great performances, especially Burstyn’s turn as Sara. As gritty and harrowing as this film is, it lives up to all the accolades it has been given.
Requiem for a Dream is hard-hitting, brutal and frightening in its depiction of drug addiction. Despite the gritty nature this is one not to be missed. Boasting some great performances and some good moral lessons, this is one of the best anti-drug films you will ever see.
(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)