Requiem for a Dream – Film Review


Second movie to watch in class for the semester is Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 film, Requiem for a Dream, starring Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Ellen Burstyn and Marlon Wayens. All of these actors are recognisable to me. Ellen from both The Exorcist and Interstellar, Wayens, one would not forget his face from White Chicks, Jared, well this hunk from 30 Seconds to Mars that I managed to see him performed live in Malaysia back in about 2012, and Jennifer.. I have definitely seen her act in one of her movies which I think would be Dark Waters.

Anyhow, a friend has told me before hand that the movie is about drug addicts so, I sorta have prepared mentally (although it is nothing much to prepare) to know what movie I am about to watch this week for Film Studies.

So, the movie started with some TV commercial about Juice and people chanting to the jingle or slogan of the product and then the first character came in; Harry (Jared Leto) trying to take his mother’s (Ellen Burstyn) television set away for God knows what reason. She even locked the TV set in and seeing how Harry was agitated by his mother, I quickly concluded that he must be one of the drug addicts trying to sell the set to gain some cash to buy drugs and I was right. He and Tyron (Marlon Wayens) dragged the TV set all the way to a pawn shop and when they got what they wanted, not long after that, Mrs. Goldfarb, Harry’s mother, came to the shop to buy back the TV set. Seeing the notes made by the owner of the pawn shop, this has become a routine where Harry would sell it and the mother would buy it back.

There are two stories in the movie. One would revolve Harry and his best friend Tyron as well as the girlfriend, Marion (Jeniffer Connely) and the other one goes to the mother, Mrs. Goldfarb. I would find it more interesting in seeing how the mother gets obsessed with television as being addicted to television is not something uncommon. She would watch the same infomercial about how this man managed to lose so much weight and then there’ll be a weekly winner? It was unclear to me to know what does the winner get other than being able to be in the television. Mrs. Goldfarb got a call from a television agency informing her that she has just been selected as a winner to appear on the television, made her want to go through an extreme diet just so that she could squeeze herself in to her old red dress. She then revealed to her son that she is lonely although she do have friends in the apartment but judging from the first scene where she did not join the other gals to sunbath in front of the apartment. So, that made me assume that, these ‘friends’ are only with her when she has something that they don’t, which in this case, having the chance to appear on the telly. However, Mrs. Goldfarb ended up losing her mind due to the ‘diet pills’ she has been consuming and she has been hospitalised in a psychiatric ward as she refuses to eat and that there is no sign of her getting better.

Whereas in Harry’s story, they seem to do anything to get themselves some dope. For example, Marion slept with her shrink to gain some money for Harry to buy the drugs and sell them back so that they could make some income. In the end, Marion, who seems to really being out of control, slept with a pimp who trades sex for dope and it gives us the illusion that that would be Marion’s way in getting more dope for her addiction now that Harry and Tyrone has been caught by the authorities. Besides that, Harry lost his left arm due to a terrible infection from injecting the drugs whereas Tyrone weeps in his bed in prison, reminiscing of his mother.

The technicality of the movie is fascinating. The director uses a lot extreme closeups especially when the drugs have taken toll on the characters. The repetitive shots or the jump cutting of the pills, the injection and sniffing and then the pupils in their eyes dilating is also done in almost every scene when they took their drugs. As for Mrs. Goldfarb, it’s done with the different coloured diet pills she is taking and then the same TV show she watches. Thus, every time the characters are taking the drugs, there will be the same slideshows being shown. Besides that, these scenes are done in a fast-motion in which I think, is to tell the audience how quick the drugs enter your system and then the usage of time lapse when Harry and Tyrone are high. Other than these, Aronofsky also uses a number of split screens that is being maintained to get our attention of two scenes at the same time. The example to the usage of this split screen is when Harry and Marion was in the same room talking and touching one another. It is as if we are seeing how two people react to the touch and the conversation of one another.

All in all, the playing of all the mise-en-shots in the movie made it a very interesting movie to be watched. I love how each character has its own storyline although Tyrone’s story seems a bit too minimal compared to the other three (Harry, Mrs. Goldfarb and Marion).



Requiem for a Dream – Film Review

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