Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Requiem for a Dream

After Black Swan, I watched an older movie by the same director, Daren Aronofsky, Requiem for a Dream, released in 2000 and starring Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. Incidentally, Ellen Burstyn also played Regan’s mother in the Exorcist. As a teenager I had a huge crush on Jared Leto in  TV show My So-called Life and even in American Psycho. Jennifer Connelly I only know from the very intellectual He’s just not that into you and the movie I have yet to see A beautiful mind. The film is inspired from the book of the same name by Hubert Selby Jr.

The story is basic: the fantasies of 4 drug addicts become more and more confusing as their addiction and delusions grow. The film is segmented into four seasons, which the shattering of all dreams in the final season. 3 of the protagonists are young people, played by Leto, Connelly and Marlon Wayans; the fourth one is Leto’s characters’ mother, Ellen Burstyn. Whereas the 3 teens are “voluntary” addicts, Sara Goldfard (Burstyn) starts taking diet pills when she finds out her dream of appearing on TV might come true. Soon she becomes trapped in her dreams, and eventually becomes crazy. Harry and Tyrone (Leto and Wayans) want to start their own drug-dealing business but get caught up and end up in jail. Meanwhile, Marion (Connelly) ends up trading sex for drugs to feed her addiction.

I had been told the movie was horrible – I did not find it horrible, I found it depressing , disturbing and difficult, even though it is filmed beautifully and manages to bring the spectator in. 


I felt particularly sad for the mother, who I felt did not deserve her fate. The intrusion of the Tappy show, that get longer and longer, and more personal as the seasons go, were particularly disturbing to me, repeated over and over again, up until Sara just imagines he is talk to / about her:

Be excited, be, be excited.

We got a winner, I said we got a winner, we got a winner!


 The other 3 did, so their end shows a little justice, although have one arm amputated or being sentenced to a life of labor in a racist environment might be harsh (God damn New York dope fiend niggers. Learn some manners!). In spite of a couple of scenes between Harry and his mother, or between Happy and Marion, even harry and Tyrone, the movie does not deal with helping others, it deals with the harsh reality that in the end people are all alone, and that no one can help you but you. At least that is how I understood it. There is a feeling of inevitability from the start that is chilling. This is made more intense by the filming, which features a lot of close-ups, and fast images. I was so into it I almost cannot remember the soundtrack, apart from the fact that, to me, it added pressure and stress. 


Aronofsky said about the film: 

 It is not about heroin or about drugs… The Harry-Tyrone-Marion story is a very traditional drug story. But putting it side by side with the Sara story, we suddenly say, 'Oh, my God, what is a drug?' The idea that the same inner monologue goes through a person's head when they're trying to quit drugs, as with cigarettes, as when they're trying to not eat food so they can lose 20 pounds, was really fascinating to me.

 Last word to Sara: In the end it's all nice

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