★★★★☆ – Intense, disturbing and harrowing until its closing scene. A roller coaster ride if there ever was one, Requiem is a trip in itself; with no grisly details left out.
Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream is a disturbing, graphic and downright unpleasant piece of cinema – it is difficult to watch, hard to enjoy and leaves a bad taste in your mouth after watching the closing scenes: yet it is nothing short of brilliant. Depicting the downward spiral of substance abuse on four very different people, we follow the entangled lives of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). Living relatively normal lives up until each makes a decision to get more seriously involved with drugs, the New York residents experience what it is to end up in the worst case scenario – their chemical highs fading into something far more sinister.
The three younger characters all suffer with an addiction to heroin – whilst Oscar-nominated Burstyn plays the role of a diet-pill popping, elderly widow; obsessed with slimming down to appear on the informercials she watches day in, day out. Like his mother, Harry also has a goal directly stemming from his drug abuse, an idea involving both Marion and Tyrone to involve themselves in the selling business and achieve their lifelong dreams of escape and independence in the process. Of course, this doesn’t go entirely to plan – and as such, the film depicts the slow unraveling of each character’s sanity, moral judgement and substance dependence in frightening detail; vividly manipulating our sensory experienceof the story through grotesque visuals and unimaginable situations – you know you’re in too deep when instead of snacking from the fridge, the fridge snacks on you.
Requiem for a Dream is a film that needs to be experienced to be explained. With the blu-ray re-release coming out this month, it’s the perfect opportunity to horrify yourself out of ever wanting to dabble with mind-altering substances, if you were ever considering it. As far as psychological dramas go, this is one of the top of many lists for aptly portraying what its like to struggle against an illness that people don’t realise they have – the consequences rooted in the harsh actuality of ‘the real world’; where people are used, hurt, and not everything turns out okay.
Requiem For A Dream (2000), directed by Darren Aronofsky, is distributed in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray by Lionsgate Films. Certificate 18.
This article was originally posted to The Edge.