Let us go inside the head of director Darren Aronofsky, the man behind Pi, as he tells stories of drug addiction in Requiem for a Dream, one of the best movies of 2000.
The movie stars Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, and Ellen Burstyn, all as people who are or become affected by drug abuse. Leto is a druggie who constantly steals from his mother to pay for drugs, but has recently made a fortune on selling drugs. Connelly is his girlfriend who is even more addicted than he is - she is willing to have sex for drugs. Wayans is a friend of theirs who is in over his head in drug dealing. As for Burstyn, she plays the most interesting character as Leto's mother, who thinks that she is going to be put on television so she goes on a diet, only to unknowingly be placed on a subscription of speed, which slowly drives her to insanity.
The most notable part of Requiem for a Dream is the acting, which is phenomenal. Jared Leto has always shown that he can act, but this is by far his best performance. He plays a drug addict and drug dealer but Aronofsky has done a good job of allowing the audience to relate him to a normal son. He is not a bad guy; he is just stuck in a bad place. Connelly also delivers a stellar performance and gives the audience a good look as to what lengths people will go to get what they crave. I think one of the most memorable shots of the movie is the very last one of Connelly as she lies on a couch, smiling, despite what she has gone through. Wayans surprisingly winds up in a serious role and he does a surprisingly good job as Leto's best friend. His path to chaos is a little more subdued, but he does much the same as Leto by creating compassion for himself. And, as mentioned earlier, Ellen Burstyn plays the most interesting character. We get to see her change from a happy mother to a crazy woman that has hallucinations of her refrigerator attacking her in a matter of an hour and a half. Again, one of the most memorable moments of the film is the last shot of her.
Aronofsky is one of the most ambitious directors out there. I congratulated Pi on its strange technical approach, but was not overly crazy about the actual movie. As for Requiem for a Dream, however, I have to congratulate everything, technical and non-technical alike. Aronofsky frequently uses split screen techniques which work extremely well, especially in a scene where Leto and Connelly are talking in bed. His use of fast motion photography also captures the horrors of drug abuse.
The content of Requiem for a Dream might be a little dark for some viewers, but it still stands as one of the top films of 2000. This movie should easily have been nominated as Best Picture. The movie takes us into the lives of various drug abusers, and ends on a horrifying moral message that just about equals the abrupt ending in Pi.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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