Requiem for a Dream

19 Jan

Picture from the film Requiem For A Dream

Darren Aronofsky creates a quite unpleasant and haunting emotional journey

audio transcript

A graphic description of a mother and son’s journey into drugs hell; mum hooked on slimming pills, the son injecting heroin into a tortured vein. Mix in his girlfriend’s descent that ends with performing explicit sex acts for her next fix. Now wait. Let me tell you it’s classy stuff. Great direction, amazing action, emotional involvement. This isn’t a drug film – it’s a human film and it works.

audio transcript

To put forward a strong message without moralising is extremely difficult. To make it into a great, powerful, disturbing and entertaining film is phenomenal. Aronofsky has a message rather than a moral – he shows that everyone is weak in a way, but it?s those who are exposed to drugs, drugs that offer them hope, who will have their weaknesses exposed. The mother is a key character here. Superbly played by Ellen Burstyn, the spiral into dependencey on slimming drugs (a combination of uppers, downers and who knows what) is subtle but total. Meanwhile her son – a great guy – and his extremely attractive and upwardly mobile designer girlfriend celebrate their success in opening a fashion boutique by splashing out on some of the good quality hard stuff and then they decend also. The pain of Harry, physically wrecked – graphically displayed, is hard to bear, but the pain for us of seeing Marion reduced to performing an explicit lesbian show surrounded by a circle of money throwing, howling, men is hard to take. But all the time we are led down this cruel path, we can?t resist getting involved. Clever camera work, haunting music and sublime performances from all involved leave us unable to escape our emotional involvement. Contrast this with Aronofsky?s previous effort, Pi, a deeply weird film also, but cliched enough in characterisation and plot devices for me to get it mixed up with ?Good Will Hunting?. None of that here. ?Requiem for a Dream stands alone. It is not a ?drug film? it is a ?human film?. Look not for the effects of drugs but for the way of man. If I was shocked when I left the cinema and looked around it wasn?t that drugs are everywhere, but human nature certainly is.

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