Fearful Symmetry

Film. Books. Comics. TV. Music.

Requiem For A Dream

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Happy pills

Happy pills

Requiem For A Dream is one of those films that really split me, as whilst, like all Aronofsky’s work it is visually stunning, in fact brilliant in all technical aspects and has solid acting performances, the plot and the whole underlying message left me cold. You are basically bludgeoned with the message ‘Drugs are bad!’ over and over again throughout the whole running time. This is most likely as the film is based on the 1978 novel by Hubert Selby Jr and the popularity of works such as Trainspotting have shown that drugs and drug addiction are a more complicated matters than the film portrays and have lessened the shock value the novel would have had when the world of junkies was largely unknown.

Ellen Burstyn stars as a Jewish retired housewife who is addicted to comfort eating and watching trash television – you see, there are other addictions than drugs! (yeah, ok, we get it). Her son Jared Leto and his friend Marlon Wayans (who is a revelation compared to his comedy roles) and Leto’s girlfriend Jennifer Connelly have dreams and ambitions but mainly just live day-to-day dabbling in drugs and drug dealing, usually sponsored by pawing Burstyn’s television.

This status is disrupted when Burstyn gets an invitation to be on her favorite television show and Leto scores it big with a drug deal. Burstyn failed attempts to loose weight in order to wear her favourite dress on the show lead her to a doctor who proscribes her diet pills, essentially speed, that she rapidly becomes addicted to. Leto and friends continue dealing, to finance their plans, like Connelly’s dream of moving into fashion but move deeper further into the underworld and drug addiction. Things rapidly spiral down to hell and the protagonists are left mad, in prison, prostituted or mutilated.

The film employs a number of visual and sound tricks to bring over the obsessive relationships the protagonists have with their various drugs, fetishising them. This builds on from Aronofsky potential he shown in equally the visually interesting first film PI. Unfortunately that film was lacking in plot resolution – we never really learnt what was going on and the main character just went mad at end – and Requiem For A Dream is the same thing but more so. Reports on The Fountain, Aronofsky’s latest film, sound like whilst visually he is, if anything, improving as a director, but he’s becoming even worse in providing a satisfactory plot or emotional resolution to his films.


Written by Fearful Symmetry

July 19, 2009 at 11:02 am

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