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Requiem for a Dream (DVD, 2001, Unrated)
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Drugs are the Death of Dreams. REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
Sep 27, 2009
Review by Mark Vaughan
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Everything; the alienation oozes off the screen.
Cons:Depressing as heck; Double feature with The Wrestler, and it's a Prozac evening!
The Bottom Line:
This should be required veiwing for every teen in America. A true Masterpeice.
Requiem for a Dream (2000) Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Recommend this product?
The Subject is her diet pills:
Sara Goldfarb: Purple in the morning, blue in the afternoon, orange in the evening.
[To her nemesis, the refrigerator]
Sara Goldfarb: There's my three meals, Mr. Smarty-pants.
[Back to pills]
Sara Goldfarb: And green at night. Just like that. One, two, three, four.
This is the story of four people, all of whom have dreams. Some of them are simple dreams, some of them bigger. And their dreams do different things for them, but all of them give them a reason to get up in the morning.
Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn, Oscar Nominated for the role) is a retiree, living a quiet life. The most excitement and socialization she gets is when her son stops by to hock the television. Then she shleps down to the pawn store to buy it back. Guess what son Harry (Jared Leto) does with the money? The rest of the time she visits with the TV, and her favorite TV host, Tappy Tibbons (Christopher McDonald.)
Harry has a friend; Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) with whom he shares many adventures, and the heroin. Harry has a girl friend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) (Silver and Goldfarb) who wants to be a designer. Harry loves her very much so he shares the heroin with her as well.
Harry and Tyrone have a plan; they save and scrape and scrounge money together, buy a little heroin, cut it, and sell it. It works, and they stick with the business plan, limiting their use, saving money, and buy purer heroin that can be cut more, and deliver a bigger kick. Eventually, they will have lots of money, Marion will go to design school, and the boys will deal and build a fortune, and retire early. It is the stuff that dreams are made of....
Sara's dream is a little more prosaic; she gets a call that tells her she is going to be a contestant on her favorite game show. She is thrilled. She even knows what she will wear; the red dress she wore to Harry's graduation. Only problem is, she is too fat to fit.
Diet is just "Die" with a "T". But one of her front stoop friends tells her about a relative who got some pills from a doctor and lost a lot of weight. And Sara gets them.
Ever seen a six year old after two Jolt Colas? That is what Sara is like. She's as fidgety as mudbugs on a griddle, until she takes the last pill of the day, the green one, and then she is comatose in 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, the drug business is booming. Sadly, so is Tyrone's suppliers head. It is a war between the blacks and the Italians, and since Tyrone is splattered in the supplier's brains, he has to be bailed out. With what? With operating Capital. Also, Harry has just bought his mother a big screen TV, trying to make up for all the times he hocked hers. That too has thinned the capital.
Nothing like a drug war to dry the supply. Soon, they aren't selling, they are just using. And it is a scramble to find a connection to reestablish the flow.
Meanwhile, Sara's apartment is spotless, she has lost 25 pounds, and except for the fact that the refrigerator occasionally lunges at her in a threatening manner, and she can't sit still anymore than a humming bird, she is doing fine.
Each one discovers the dangers of tolerance. Your body adapts. You need more to feel the same way. None of them discovers the trap of tolerance. First, they are taking drugs to feel good (either directly or to feel good about themselves). Then they are taking drugs to not feel bad.
And from that point, it is an inevitable spiral. They paths are very different, but the direction is always the same.
One thing masterful about this movie is its point of view. Often, we see things as the protagonists do; even when distorted. Aranofsky's use of camera angle and distorted lenses, along with repeated clips gives a real feel of being in an altered state of consciousness. A hit is the same. White powder, a bic, a filling syringe, a tightening strap on an arm, drugs rushing through veins; pupils dilate. Every time. Often with split screen if they are doing it together.
Another telling trick of brilliance is progression. When Sara starts, she is a frump. But when she gets her dream of being on TV, she starts pulling herself together. She gets her hair done. (Orange, then red) and slowly, the zipper goes further up her back.... But as she begins to go down the other side, her hair, so carefully groomed, becomes unkempt. The gray root show, more and more. Make up becomes less and less. For Marion the progression is the opposite; the further she slides down the slope, them more makeup she wears. For Harry, it is the sore upon his arm; the needle track. It progresses.
None of these people are bad people. But none of them are strong people either. They each have their dreams, and they are so willing to pursue them, but little by little, their dreams are subverted by substance, and not in a good way.
The performances of these actors are amazing. I personally find I have an automatic distancing effect where drugs are concerned; I have watched too many people flushed down the drain, and I withdraw when I realize they are circling the bowl. But these characters draw you in, MAKE you care, and make you suffer with them. That is masterful.
So, consider the brilliance of the book by Hubert Selby Jr., the genius of the director, and the pathos of the actors, you have a masterpiece. It is not fun, or uplifting. It is tragic, and depressing. But it is so very good. Every teen in America needs to watch this. There are few movies that manage to show you what addiction is like and not come across as preaching. This one does. Deeply disturbing, depressing, and damnably good.
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