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Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Delusion Over Addiction

Directed by:

Darren Aronofsky

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

On DVD

Love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure – you can’t accuse ‘Requiem for a Dream’ of glorifying drug-use. These people’s lives are a MESS! There’s needle-happy dealer Harry (Jared Leto), his batty old speed-addicted mum Sara (Ellen Bursytn), his do-anything-for-some-drug-money girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his wild-eyed partner-in-crime Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). And, in this near-grotesque junkie-romp from ‘Pi’ director Darren Aronofsky, they all come together to go well and truly off the rails.

In what vaguely amounts to a sort of Magnolia meets Trainspotting, the film takes us to Coney Island, where each of our leads are being sucked further and further along a drug-addled road of no return. Aronofsky’s main focus is Harry: he starts off the flick hoping to make it rich by simply flogging the stuff but, as his own addiction takes control, his only concern becomes getting hold of the drugs for himself. I found his poor old mum’s side of the story much more interesting, though. We’ve seen countless movie-world 20-somethings droning on about drug-addiction, but seeing how it affects an unwitting oldie is something much more original.

As anyone who’s seen ‘Pi’ will probably be able to guess, this is an eye-popping piece of work which attempts to mess up our own heads as much as its characters’. It’s stylistically self-indulgent in some places and visually engrossing in others, but consistently moves along at an incredible rate of knots with the end result that you think you’ve been watching it for considerably longer than its 100-or-so minutes. During the closing 15-20 minutes in particular I was scared to blink in case I missed anything – be it mum’s seemingly irreversible breakdown, Marion’s descent into all-out seediness, or simply Harry’s increasingly-hideous arm, it’s a real challenge having so much to take in and only two eyes to do it with.

Ah, but did I like it? Well, it’s not a film without its faults – and chief irritation for me was the sound quality. Not only is much of the dialogue muffled, but it’s often drowned out by the music, meaning the subtitle option on the DVD comes as a bit of a Godsend. It could also do with a bit of comic relief here and there, even if only in the early stages. But it’s impossible not to admire a film as striking, inventively-made and well-performed as this one. Despite its blatant anti-drugs message, it isn’t preachy – no, it goes straight past preachy and wallops you repeatedly around the side of the face until you agree with it. This isn’t a movie you’ll forget in a hurry.

It's Got: Marlon Wayans in a rare – if pretty underdeveloped – straight role.

It Needs: Zammo’s ‘Just Say No’ video included on the extras.

DVD Extras The featurettes are ‘Anatomy of a Secen’, ‘Tappy’s Life Story’ and a half-hour ‘Making Of’. There are also deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, a trailer and some TV spots. Version reviewed: Requiem For A Dream DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Buffalo '66, Magnolia, Trainspotting

Summary

Be it a dream or a nightmare, this was one of the must-sees of 2000.

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