It is one of those brilliant movies, which haunts one long after one has seen it, and is therefore a timeless and unforgettable piece of art. What with its violence, graphic and sometimes explicit scenes, and a very honest and thus dismal view of what drug addiction and loneliness can do to life, it is not a film for everyone. Divided into three vivid parts, its symbolic significance cannot be ignored. Aptly titled "requiem for a dream" it portrays the life of four ambitious and innately good people whose life is destroyed as their drug addictions spiral out of control. Thus, in the face of the fact that all their ambitions are shattered, a requiem for them is necessary as a tribute, and comes in the form of this technically clean cut and amazing film. The three parts are "summer", "winter" and "fall", showing the gradual deterioration of their mental and physical states, until things hit rock bottom, and how.
A ruthless film in that sense, as it does not gloss over anything with the help of rosy depictions of rehabilitated and penitent reformed former addicts, its vivid portrayal of each individual downfall and its beautiful soundtrack make it extremely memorable, although some scenes are so graphic that you might want to shield your eyes for a bit if you aren't too daring. The veteran actress Ellen Burstyn plays Sarah Goldfarb, a Jewish widow who lives alone and is extremely lonely. Her ambition is to get on her favourite television game show wearing a particular red dress which is a relic of her glorious yesteryears. In her desperation to lose weight, she goes to a doctor's clinic where she is manipulated into the habit of taking diet pills, which make her restless and hyperactive and also cause her to lose weight.
However, as her addiction accelerates out of her control, her descent into insanity is precipitated. Though she manages to fit into her dress and continually hallucinates about herself being on the imagined show, her hyperactivity and the loneliness, which eats her up from the inside, cause her eventual downfall. Her son, Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and his best friend Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans) are addicted to a high flying lifestyle laced with drugs and fun and they taste this so called success in the first part of the film. Later, however, a lot of violence and unpleasantness mar their lives even as they struggle to acquire the once easily available drugs. Harry's girlfriend, Marion, played by Jennifer Connelly, is also a young woman who is deeply into drug addiction.
The dynamic of the relationship shared by Harry and Marion changes with the various stages in the film, from a happy one to a querulous and sad one, as money for their indispensable drugs runs out. In telling this story, Aronofsky pulls out all the stops and hurls all the technical aspects of cinema at the viewers in the form of slow motions, fast forwards, fantasy sequences and close ups of the drug taking characters' pupils dilating. In recognition of the brilliance of the film, it was nominated for an Oscar and won 19 awards and 30 other nominations.
In a riveting depiction of how Sarah becomes insane, Harry loses his arm, Tyrone ends up in prison and Marion gets into prostitution, "Winter" ends up giving you the chills. However, as mentioned before, there is no glossing over facts and no rosy descriptions in such an austere film as this, but there is always a relatable human touch within the characterization and the telling of the story. Watching "Requiem For A Dream" has been a deeply rewarding and hard-hitting experience for most of the people who have and this speaks well of the film.
The delusions that addiction brings with itself are difficult to shake off and this fact is exploited to the fullest in a remarkably efficient way in this supreme specimen of good cinema. Details: DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky WRITERS: Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr. CAST: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes.
Gautam Hosahalli Nagaiah writes regularly for Self Improvement Blog.