There are films with intense subject matter, films with an oppressively bleak outlook, and then there is Requiem For A Dream. That’s not to diss it in any way, it is an incredible piece of work by director Darren Aronofsky, adapting the novel by Hubert Selby Jr admirably, it is just such a dark study of addiction in its varying forms that it isn’t advised to be viewed lightly and without duly bracing for the experience.
Telling the story of a group of people in New York City, Sara Goldfarb & her son Harry, his girlfriend Marion & his best friend Tyrone. Harry, Marion & Tyrone are all functioning Heroin addicts, trying to scrape by on small time drug deals to gain enough money to help fund them in their endeavours. Sara is herself an addict in varying forms. Addicted to food, TV self-help shows and eventually the diet pills she takes to lose weight to fit into her illusive little red dress. She receives a telephone call informing her that she is going to appear on the TV show she obsessively watches and feels she must lose weight to appear on TV, that age old worry of how others may perceive you, magnified by 10 in the cold, synthetic glow of Television.
It is important to state I feel, as many other commentators have also on this movie, Requiem For A Dream isn’t a ‘Drug Movie’, of course it does feature drug use but to call that the film’s thematic focal point would be a disservice and missing the point of the story. It is a film about obsession & addiction, in all their varying forms, how pressure and obsession can drive us to incredibly dark and bleak places if they become the driving force in our lives.
On a stylistic level, Requiem is phenomenal. Aronofsky utilises techniques such as split-screen, time lapse, tight close ups in parallel to long tracking shots. It really is a treasure of cinematic technique. In any other film, in any other hands the overuse of some of these techniques could feel jarring, In Aronofsky’s hand they feel vital to the story that he is telling. Add into the mix a powerful score from ex Pop Will Eat Itself frontman Clint Mansell in conjunction with the Kronos Quartet, with a lead piece so superbly realised and crafted it has been used on everything from trailers for other films and probably more recognisably, the X-Factor of all things.
Requiem For A Dream isn’t going to be a film for all tastes. It is relentlessly dark in its dissection of its characters ambitions and at times very hard to watch. I would however advise you to check it out if you enjoy wonderfully crafted, emotionally charged drama with enough layers to peel away in its incisive social commentary