Requiem For A Dream

Requiem For A Dream


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Heroin is not the only drug. Hubert Selby Jr has a reputation for cutting through the garbage to the pit of pain. His novel, Last Exit To Brooklyn, caused a sensation and was turned into a mediocre film. This is another of his books, which has the good fortune of being adapted and directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose debut feature, Pi, excited the art house crowd in 1999.

It is the story of Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), a Coney Island matron, who receives a phone call informing her that she has been chosen as a contestant on a TV game show. She decides to slim to prepare for her moment of fame and becomes addicted to the pills, causing paranoia.

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Her son, Harry (Jared Leto), dabbles at drug dealing with his pal, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), a streetwise black man on the perimeters of gangland. He and his girlfriend, Marion (Jennifer Connelly), are dreamers. "I love you, Harry," she says. "You make me feel like a person." What helps even more is H.

What Aronofsky has done with Selby's script is remarkable. With the use of split screen, hip-hop montage and every trick in the cinematographer's bag, he has forged a work of considerable significance. Something as subjective as addiction in the hands of a less sensitive director might have caused accusations of pretentiousness. Not here.

Andy Warhol and others, who indulged it, killed off the cinema as an art form. Aronofsky demonstrated his conviction and intelligence in Pi, a more complex movie than Requiem. There are images here of such beauty and despair, it would take a snowman not to respond.

Burstyn's performance is too good for an Oscar. Sara's initial excitement that her lonely life has been altered by the promise of some tacky TV show ("I'm somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. It's a reason to get up in the morning. It makes tomorrow alright") quickly dissolves into a living nightmare, where her room conspires against her and the fridge behaves as if a wild animal is trapped inside it.

Acting of this purity is rare, indeed. Watching her is like watching the sky fall.

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2001
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Study of dysfunction, addiction, loneliness and love amongst four characters in Coney Island
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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Writer: Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr, based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser, Marcia Jean Kurtz, Janet Sarno, Suzanne Shepherd, Joanne Gordon, Charlotte Aronofsky, Mark Margolis, Michael Kaycheck, Jack O'Connell, Chas Mastin

Year: 2000

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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