Every once in a while, you see a movie that really sticks with you. Something about it speaks to you on a higher level than merely just being an enjoyable piece of film. And even though I just watched Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream yesterday, I know that this is a movie that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Everything about it was strange, chilling, and oddly beautiful. Some people would definitely not enjoy this movie, but I think that it’s an important movie for just about everyone to watch at some point in their lives. I’ll skip the plot synopsis – all you really need to know is that Requiem follows four ambitious people who are destroyed by addiction.
All four of the actors are great. I thought Jennifer Connelly was amazing in A Beautiful Mind and Blood Diamond, and I now have even more respect for her after watching her heartbtreaking, subtle performance. All four stories are horrific in their own ways, but I think I was most disturbed by the person that Connelly’s Marion Silver character becomes. Ellen Burstyn is certainly deserving of her Oscar nomination as Sara, an older woman addicted to diet pills. She’s separated from the other cast for most of the movie, and her apartment becomes a claustrophobic, nightmarish setting which she must battle alone. But while I expected great things from Connelly and Burstyn, I was surprised by the two male leads. I guess I’ve always dismissed Jared Leto as a bit of a prettyboy/emo hack (surely, you can forgive me – have you heard any of 30 Second to Mars’ music?) But not having actually seen much of his acting work, I was taken aback by how convincing he was as Harry in Requiem. Leto somehow made his character vulnerable, pathetic, despicable and likeable all at once. Marlon Wayans was also surprisingly strong as Harry’s friend Tyrone, though he had more understated performance than the others.
I also loved the style that Aronofsky brought to the film. Many of his camera angles and techniques were very inventive, and highly effective. The whole film played out like a horror film, in a way. The soundtrack, bleak settings, dark subject matter, and camera work all created this crazy amount of tension. I look forward to watching this movie again in the future, and watching for all the stylistic touches that I missed first time around. And not to give away the ending, but the last few minutes of this film were edited so wonderfully, and it created this whirlwind climax. It was very difficult to watch, but only because it had such a visceral impact.
And let’s talk about that soundtrack for a second. I’ve heard that same string part in umpteen billion ads for various other products and movies. I actually didn’t know that it was originally from this film, and it sounds best in its originating form. At one point, the instruments are slightly out of tune, and it works amazingly. It created so much dread, and, like with many true horror movies, I found myself almost unable to watch the screen, for fear of what was going to happen next. Like this movie, the soundtrack is pretty much perfect.
So in conclusion, go out and watch Requiem for a Dream! It’s heavy and depressing, but it will really make you think.