Read it and weep, or rather, watch it and weep. I have been putting off this review for a long time. Words just don’t do it justice. No matter how many times I have seen this, I am always completely blown away by the power, beauty, and horror of this cinematic masterpiece. Not only is the plot eye-opening in this gritty drama, it also works as a true piece of art. The filming technique and editing is truly one-of-a-kind and inventively inspiring.
This movie hits on all the senses. Ok, that is not really possible but let me explain. This movie does something so profound to me that I truly feel that it is all encompassing. But I guess that’s what good art does. Visually, it is stunning. This is an authentic look at a life of poverty on Coney Island. The dream scenes flow seamlessly into the real scenes so that you think it is actually happening until the character snaps back to harsh reality. The soundtrack compares to no other. The music is beautiful and haunting and to this day, whenever I hear the theme song or some variation of it, I immediately put my hand over my heart, as if I feel the pain all over again. I can’t smell it and I can’t taste it but this movie touches and affects me so intensely. Whenever I meet a novice but curious film-watcher, I always choose this as the first film to show them. It is the ultimate example of a powerfully flawless and overwhelmingly beautiful and moving film.
This movie is all about the power of addiction. This evil can be disguised as any demon and come in many shapes and sizes, whatever it may be. Harry Goldfarb (played by Jared Leto) and his girlfriend, Marion (played by Jennifer Connelly), struggle with a severe heroin addiction that has completely overtaken their every thought and action. Harry’s mother, Sara (played by Ellen Burstyn), is suffering a new addiction from prescribed amphetamines to help with her weight issue. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. As sweeping as these addictions are for these characters, the ending is even more poignant and heart-breaking. It is easy to say that this is the best acting achievement by all actors involved. Ellen Burstyn was even nominated for best actress in a leading role for the Oscars in 2001.
For the longest time, I so wished Darren Aronofsky would come out with something as powerful as Requiem for a Dream. His prior film, Pi (1998), is a great example of a highly successful art film. Finally, over ten years later, he released Black Swan (2010), which will forever remain one of the most moving films for me personally since I was a ballerina growing up. Black Swan does an incredible job of showing the intensity of professional ballet and a young woman’s descent into madness. But Requiem for a Dream will permanently remain Aronofsky’s magnum opus with his explicit depiction and harrowing portrait of drug addiction. Requiem for a Dream is easily one of the most relevant films of its decade and definitely one of the best films of all time.
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