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Requiem for a Dream
2000 - R - 102 Mins.
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Producer: Eric Watson, Palmer West
Written By: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser, Keith David
Review by: Carl Langley
   

I gotta go back and get my needle Ma!
Not so much a phenomenal movie as an unforgettably formidable exhortation, Requiem for a Dream disburses the better part, if not all, of the two hours constructing a divaricated, around-the-clock perspective of the consequences of drug addiction. Darren Aronofsky, best known for his sci-fi thriller Pi prior to this, assembles four characters and strikingly embeds them in cramped circumstances, all willing to shed any surviving humiliation to pacify their enduring cravings. More advantageously, he exploits the harrowing split-screen method and loads of editing to display the oppressing situations and the meridian it steers to.

Dauntlessly undisguised, Requiem for a Dream is horrifyingly burdensome on the eyes at times, notably near the end when every character is watching their life progress on a downspiral. But portrayals of narcotic dependence is so overused – the standard-bearer (in this case Jared Leto playing Harry) pulling off whatever is necessary to dividend the funds for his next shoot-up, even if it means repeatedly pilfering his mother’s (Ellen Burstyn) television and selling it to a pawnbroker. This tale also enters the lives of his best friend, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), and his recalcitrant girlfriend, Marion (Jennifer Connelly).

Each character carries their endemic desires as well. Harry and Tyrone fix on becoming wealthy from selling drugs and Harry hopes to help Marion finance her own clothing store. After being promised an appearance on a television game show, Harry’s mother, Sara, dreams of fitting back into her stunning red dress. But first she must lose weight and she turns to pharmaceutical uppers and downers to control her weight, becoming addicted in the process. Harry and Tyrone affiliate with what they are selling and Marion sponges her notions with every sniff and injection.

Requiem for a Dream deliberately plods through the beginning, establishing each relationship more competently than others. This assists in noticing each individual performance, especially Ellen Burstyn who is so good it is frightening. Asked to step outside their cozy sphere (especially Connelly, who appears nude and participates in unusual, appalling sexual acts), each actor redefines embarrassment. Jennifer Connelly turns in a strong performance as well, but her co-stars, Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans seem out of place. Odd that Wayans would choose a motion picture such as this and it is even more odd that someone chose him; he just looks lost. The film was slapped with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA because they mistakenly though Aronofsky was glorifying the drug culture plus its explicit sex, but Aronofsky appealed, marking it an unrated film. Since then an R-rated version has been made available.

Many critics considered Aronofsky’s depiction the best film of the year. With monstrous performances, groovy camerawork and an engaging score, Requiem for a Dream is worth a shot at stomaching, but overall, without these attributes, there is nothing to find that cannot be discovered in Drugstore Cowboy, Trainspotting, or High Art. The study of the downfalls for drug users is antiquated, and with no fresh material, even the shocking lesbian acts of Jennifer Connelly cannot cure the yawns. If that will not excite viewers, you know there is something huge missing.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

 
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