Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “Requiem for a Dream” (2000)

I’m a bit late to the party I know, but I finally decided to watch Darren Aronofsky’s unique movie about four New Yorkers descending into their own personal addiction hells. Ultimately, a perfect Friday night viewing experience, rather than joining the masses by watching Wales vs. Belgium!

The most noteworthy element of this film is the direction and editing; with over 2,000 cuts, Requiem for a Dream is slicky and confidently crafted, creating a unique, engaging atmosphere that is constantly incredible to witness.

And that music! Clint Mansell’s score, with pieces performed by the Kronos Quartet, is exemplary and significantly adds to the film’s impact. No wonder the central theme has been “borrowed” many times, most famously in the trailer for The Two Towers.

I admire how this film primarily features just four characters (played by Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans) and this ensures that the film doesn’t ramble too much and it gives the actors more room to showcase their talents. For me, the main draw of the film is Ellen Burstyn; going from the frumpy, overweight mother to the manic, diet pill-addicted, paranoid shell of what she once was, she is amazing and hers is the performance that makes the movie.

The film also has that distinctive, gritty, dystopian feel to it; those television segments reminded me of The Running Man and the works of Terry Gilliam. The manic, hellish atmosphere is constantly hypnotic and engaging – proper edge-of-the-seat stuff.

However I will admit that past the halfway point, the film starts to drag in certain places and, although what was happening on screen was fascinating, I found myself constantly checking how long was left and felt as though the film was perhaps moving a bit too slowly.

I think that Requiem for a Dream is much more of an experience than a straightforward film and that you perhaps have to watch it in the right environment. Like Under the Skin, this is a film that needs to be watched in total darkness, on your own and with no distractions. Well, that’s how I watched it and the experience was perfect.

A slickly edited and directed, hypnotic, nightmarish odyssey with perfect music.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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