Cert: 18 Runtime: 102 mins Director: Darren Aronofsky Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Christopher McDonald
That’s the trouble with ya New York dope fiends. Ya got a rotten attitude
Darren Aronofsky is one of the great film-makers of our time, from PI to Black Swan he has created some of the best independent films of the last twenty years. He has now ventured into the world of big budget films with Noah out April 4th. Reading and viewing him in the press recently has given me the taste to re visit his masterpiece Requiem for a Dream. If you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly implore you to watch it. What is Requiem for a Dream all about? It exposes four paralleled individuals and their menacing addiction to heroin, cocaine, and diet pills. Taking place in Brooklyn amidst the waning Coney Island, the drugs are very easily obtained and keep each main character in its cycle of dependence. The protagonist Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) is your typical heroin junky with an ambitious plan of “Getting off hard knocks,” with help from his cocaine crazed girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his long time friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). Meanwhile his widowed mother (Ellen Burstyn) is obsessed with the glamour of television and eventually finds her way to a dietitian who pushes her into the cycle of drug induced enslavement.
Jared Leto, gives an excellent, solid performance as Harry Goldfarb, a man living an inch from his life, always in search
of a fix. In an emotional powerhouse of a performance.However, the real star of the film lies in the talent of Ellen Burstyn. Audiences will wonder at her appearance at the beginning of the film, not really knowing if it is, in fact, her. Her performance as a television, sugar and eventually, diet pill-addicted mother of Harry shows that she’s still got it after all these years. She takes on the role of Sarah Goldfarb with gusto, never backing down for a second. Totally throwing herself into the role, you tend to forget how she really looks like, given only fleeting moments in the film which suggest her real appearance. I have to say, she’s got guts. How many female actresses her age would dare to have a camera strapped to her person(as Aronofsky so creatively did), an inch away from her face with a wide angle lens? She definitely deserved her Oscar nomination, potentially she should of won!The other characters themselves hold their own with the two above mentioned powerhouses. Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans both realistically portray their respective roles as Marion Silver, Harry’s girlfriend and rebellious suburbanite chick, who degenerates to prostitution for her fix and Tyrone C. Love, Harry’s best friend and fellow pusher. Here, Wayans shows that he can lose his comic edge if needed, to portray a boy trapped in a man’s body, just yearning for his mother’s approval but seeking it instead, in drugs. Connelly for me this is her best role to date bar A Beautiful Mind.
The cinematography of Matthew Libatique gives total light on the characterizations of the people in habiting Aronofsky’s sick world, from the silently flickering sick-green fluorescents to the exaggerated wide angle shots and the beautifully sad and haunting Coney Island picturesque of the pier which suggests a certain beauty amidst all the sadness and depravity. Jay Rabinowitz’ editing stands out as well, with in-your-face smash title cards(emphasising the downward crash of the character’s lives through the seasons), as well as the close-up constructions of the drug taking process. The latter sequences, edited so tightly and seamlessly, make the moment so beautiful but so fleeting, as is the case with drugs. The sequences are almost like a drug, making you crave for more of them, a fix which you get, whenever the characters get their own fix in the film. Lots of people might misinterpret this as glamorising the drug culture but these moments are so fleeting that they’re over before you even know it, and then it’s back to Harry, Marion, Sarah and Tyrone’s sick and depraved search for the next fix, which very accurately portrays the twisted quest of a true and sincere addiction.
The film is also superbly scored by Clint Mansell and hauntingly performed by the Kronos Quartet. A series of hauntingly shocking, yet mind-numbingly beautiful pieces which linger in your head long after.Darren Aronofsky shines in his brilliant direction and style, in this depiction of the downward spiral of the lives of four people, living with their respective addictions.The direction is brilliant, beautiful, empathic. There are not enough words to describe his direction or this film and I think the best way to say it is that I am speechless. Aronofsky has shown me that, jaded by so many films, something can still prompt me to sit up and take notice. To see something that I have never seen before or learn something I don’t already know. The ending, is sheer power. A masterpiece of all the elements of what film making is about, mixed together in some sick soufflé and thrown into your face, burning hot and scalding. The film leaves a deep impression, of how hunting for our dreams and euphoria can become a very dark road of decent.