Requiem for a Dream (2000) – The Parable of Happiness

Darren Aronofsky is like Christopher Nolan or Quentin Tarantino. They all have their own genius even at the same level. After he directed one of the most confusing movies so-called “Pi”, Darren stepped forward. As we also know, Satoshi Kon’s “Perfect Blue” truly inspired “Black Swan” regardless he had never heard of the film. The film has the same shot in the Jennifer Connelly bath scene. But, what exactly was “Requiem for a Dream”? The film has the same theme as Danny Boyle’sTrainspotting” about addiction and drugs. But, this is not a dark comedy like Danny Boyle presents. This is a film I’ll never watch again, I’ll never watch forever regardless I admit this film as one of the greatest pieces in cinema.

The plot is very simple about four people who have an addiction to something. This thing isn’t just drugs or anything else but they fall deep in their own world. Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb is an old-gramma whose dreams of appearing on a TV program. To be able to realize her dream, she consumed a pill so that her body became less fat. Her dream is only one: wearing favorite clothes from her late husband. Sara has a child, Jared Leto as Harry Goldfarb. Together with Jennifer Connelly as Marion, his boyfriend, they both dreamed of build a shop.

Harry has a friend, Marlon Wayans as Tyrone C. Love, a drug user, and dealer. In addition to having a dream, they both became a dealer so they could make a profit. These four people initially had dreams in their lives to achieve success. But as far as they go, they are increasingly out of control thanks to addiction from their own world. The longer they are, the more devastated and helpless.

Now, addiction is one thing everyone experiences whether it’s an addiction to drugs, television, media, culture, whatever it was. People always say that “Requiem for a Dream” is a film about anti-drugs. Actually, that’s not it. Not only using drugs as its theme, but Ellen Burstyn also describes her character as a TV addict, self-aware, and fame. Obviously, this film has many uncomfortable scenes besides drugs, nudity, disturbing, explicit content, and depression. At least watching this film seems to make you think twice about trying the drug while not addicted. Or even, not drugs but smoking, watching your favorite program, or self-release. It’s about solitude. The more loners you are, the more entangled you will be in your very comfortable yet narrow world.

Based on a novel written by Hubert Selby Jr., “Requiem for a Dream” is about dreams. Self-explanatory for a title about a buried deep dream because who really doesn’t have a dream? The same is true of the four characters in this film. They all have dreams whether they want to go back with their mother, want to appear on a TV program, or live well until they have a family. Sara really wants to appear on television. Harry and Marion want to make a business. Tyrone wants to proud of his mother.

Even though they seem simple, their escape from this vast world is back to their own narrow world. Harry and Tyrone consume heroin as a filler and pacifier for their boredom and solitude. The buried dream finally only happened in their shadows. Not conveyed but it’s really ironic when the only way to run away from dreams they couldn’t reach.

Sara Goldfarb (with a brilliant performance from Ellen Burstyn) is the most powerful character among the other three characters. Sara was very lonely. After her husband died, the only world she has was television. Harry who was very busy with his own world doesn’t have time to spend it with his mother. Like Ellen Burstyn’s monologue about how to get up early, to lose weight, so she could use the red dress again. There is a reason we smile, we are proud of tomorrow, and we are proud of ourselves. The cinematographer, Matthew Libatique, cried during the take of this scene. Unfortunately, Ellen can only accept Oscar nominations after being defeated by Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich”. When she is hallucinating, it’s one of the most terrifying yet disturbing scenes like the baby crawling at the ceiling scene in “Trainspotting”.

When talking about cinematography and editing, Aronofksy did a unique treatment in this film. Like for example the use of the double screen in one scene rather than cutting one scene into another. This technique illustrates how the two characters, although facing each other, are trapped in their individual worlds. There are those who separate their relationship whether they are close. The time-lapse technique is another unique metaphor in describing the characters who are trapped in their own time instead of seeing everyone walking fast or only they move slowly. The hip-hop montage technique is the only one Aronofsky uses most often. Describing how drugs have a quick impact isn’t the case with the food you eat. The extreme close-up at their pupils, at the heroin, at the pills, so amazing. Like a bridge or an airplane ready to fall.

Clint Mansell is one of my favorite composers because everything this man composed, it’s so disturbing. Just watch “Pi” or even “Moon“. Both films had an impression it could never be lost from my mind. But, “Requiem for a Dream” is so self-explanatory because I’m sure everyone has heard its composition. “Lux Aeterna” is often remixed in almost all the “Lord of the Rings” trailers. Or maybe for those of you who like videos about conspiracy or apocalypse. Almost all of this music used in all media. This is also the only one that really hypnotizes me or maybe you in every other scene that is no less tense.

“Requiem for a Dream” has many metaphors about addiction, about our comfortable world, about how depressed we are. It’s definitely one of my favorite drug movies besides Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting”. But, I prefer this film to the Boyle masterpiece. It’s a harsh movie, a brutal movie, an honest movie. Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, and now, Ellen Burstyn. They are all truly insane supported with such a haunting and beautiful score. Similar to the beauty of an obsession, an art of life. Stylish, honest, yet depressing. The viewing experience is very, very extraordinary but to be honest, I don’t want to watch this film again. I just can’t afford how terrifying this movie was.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Salman Al Farisi

An Indonesian who loves to watch and read everything. A literary student who likes to write about reviews and essays on Crackdown Review. But, I just wannabe critics who love arthouse than anything.

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