Monday, May 15, 2006


RUN TIME: 102 min

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is one of the most nightmarish movies I have ever seen. It is director Darren Aronofsky’s second film following the unexpected art house success of his debut film PI. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is by far the most devastating movies made about drugs and its aftermath.
The movie follows the life of four characters- Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marian Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and Harry’s partner Tyrone (Marlon Wayans).
Sara is a desperately lonely widow growing old and her only son is living away from her. She has absolutely no one to visit her. And like millions of Americans she is a TV addict and has this big dream of appearing on a favorite TV game show of hers.
Harry wants his derailed life to be back on track. He wants to lead a settled life with his girlfriend Marian and live in this dream house of his.
Marian on the other hand wants to be a fashion designer. She is desperately in love with Harry and shares his dream of living in that house.
Tyrone just wants to be well-off in life and to be able to be something in the eyes of his mother. His mother is his leading light.
And they all get into drugs chasing their dreams- the AMERICAN DREAM. And drugs eventually take precedence over all of them and consume them.
The performances are nothing short of brilliant. It is one of the best efforts I have had the pleasure of experiencing from an ensemble cast.
Jennifer Connelly has taken a brave step by accepting such a role. I cannot think of any mainstream actress save Naomi Watts taking on such a role. And she leaves no stone unturned in conveying the tragedy of Marian Silver’s life. Her degradation for money and food is nightmarish. The sequence depicting her orgy in front of a group of people clad in suits and ties is sure one horrific and tragic image.
Jared Leto’s depiction of a junkie dreaming things is quite heart breaking. And he carries along with him a wound in the latter part of the movie that has got to be the most ghoulish wound ever shown on screen.
But the best performance is by Ellen Burstyn. Her’s is an academy-award worthy performance. The expression of her anguish over her loneliness and her desire to be on the television is just so heartbreaking. Her Sara is a person consumed by loneliness. The only thing that makes up get up in the morning is the television show. The only thing that makes her washes the dishes is the hope someday that she will make it to the television show. The monologue of her sadness is a showcase of Ms. Burstyn’s talents.
The movie by all means belongs to Mr. Aronofsky. He is a director in the mould of a Martin Scorsese for his innovation and his love for his actors. He has made a masterpiece of a movie. He wants the audience no just to sit and watch the plight of these individuals from their seats. He wants the audiences to feel them. He has literally used the entire grammar of cinema to convey REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. There is camera-cuts, there is slow motion, there is fast forward motion (a la A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), there is dark imagery, there is intense close-ups and what not. He puts you smack in the middle of the miserable lives of these individuals. And the best part of it was there was no humor relief what so ever like TRAINSPOTTING which dealt with the same issue. It is just intense visceral portrayal of an addicted life. The structure of the movie itself renders an experience that is akin to one post addiction. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is hallucinatory in its imagery. And special mention is to be made of the camerawork by Mathew Libatique. The camera in the entire movie is one character moving among these individuals. It is always an instrument to convey as to what the character is feeling right from the intense close-up of Sara during her monologue to Marian’s numbness after she sells herself. Seldom have I seen camerawork so brilliant that you understand the heart and plight of the character without a single word spoken.
The editing by Jay Robinwitz is a revelation. The last fifteen minutes of camera cuts from one character to the other is not for the faint hearted. I can see a lot of people crying in those final moments.
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is one of the best movies to be made in recent times. It is a masterpiece of movie-making with all the ingredients in the right place. But above all it is the most effective anti-drug campaign movie ever. After watching the movie I am not exactly sure which is more dangerous and intoxicating - the drugs or the great American dream each of these individulas are chasing.


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chambilkethakur said...

RFD is one of the most frightening movie i have ever seen. It is one of the most depressing movies ever.
Anyway this guy Afronsky is hell of a movie makie. brilliant cinematography and awesome screenplay man.
and yes its really a clock work orange.

Trippman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trippman said...

movies made about drugs and its aftermath
Not so much about drugs but more about the need for escape and it's consequences. It's best shown with Sara. Also many say that the dilating/retracting pupils shown when they shoot-up implies a fictional non-existing drug.

I don't really like films like these. They're not FOR the people they're portraying. A drug addict would hardly find solace in this. It doesn't show a way to solve his problem but only that what he is is WRONG!

I chatted with a few addicts who saw this film and it seems like the most they got from it is that they're not alone. Which didn't progress to much more