Society is built in such a way that it does not care about the individuality of its members except for the maximum profit that one can achieve by mechanically transforming the individual unit into monetary value. These subjects, though appealing to the general public, are not in themselves capable of making the film one of the best in the history of cinema. At this point comes Darren Aronofsky with all his creative skill and ingenuity to prove to you why you can not be reckless about the story that Hubert Shelby Jr. has to show you.
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In the Brooklyn area of New York, Harry and his tyrant Tyron fail to fit into the laws and norms of a society that has no room for themselves. They thus escape into a fictitious state of bliss in order to deceive their vulnerability and to touch the utter utopia as they have imagined it. They chose to let the heroin, cocaine and other related drugs, which temporarily soften the chaos that they feel to take over and give them the sweetest illusion: that they are able to escape from the unbearable reality. They cling to the realism they refuse to accept and their imaginary world they are unable to realize. They are survivors but they do not live, and Marion is also present here, also dreamy, equally addicted but willing to come out of the bottom to which it has come.
Harry and Marion join his dysfunctional attitudes and start a self-defeating relationship delivered to dependencies and their inability to manage them. Another interesting sketch of character is the mother of Harry, a widow with no interest in her life, capable of being an incentive to continue floating in the mire of a marginal society. It experiences the ultimate loneliness that touches the limits of abandonment. Its incessant routine comes to shake an invitation for a television show that she thinks will rid her of insignificance. Her martyr begins when she decides to lose some extra pounds that she thinks she’ll be wrong with the camera lens. Whatever follows is beyond its capabilities to manage it, let alone accept it. As a puppet in a theater of absurdity that simply takes stoically the next spin of the thread that swirls it and keeps it alive.
Aronofsky is hiding behind glamorous camera tricks, such as frequent snapshots and editing techniques, where full descriptions of how to use drugs appear with 3-4 alternate shots and duplicates keeping the viewer alert. A dollar folded, white powder on the table, and the sound of someone squeezing hard on his nose, suffices to see that Harry is already warming up and able to re-enter the streets of New York. Aronofsky managed to visualize the events described in Shelby’s book in such a way that you can not turn your gaze elsewhere for even a second. It keeps you from the very first minute. The photos and the direction are perfectly tied and create a sense of encroachment, a stifling cloak in which the viewer gets trapped more and more as the plot unfolds, as do the film’s protagonists. Close-ups are given to surprise you, to attract you, demonstrating the problem from within. You take and place, the film personally refers to you, it does not allow you to distance yourself, it shares you as a shareholder in the action that is cast in your eyes. This goal is also achieved with the taste, literally, that leaves you end. A taste of bitterness and restraint, similar to what Tyron has in the last scene.
Perhaps one of a hundred best, as aesthetically as narrative, films in the history of cinema. It makes you feel a lot of aversion to the substances that addiction and attachment to them. It demonstrates the brutal, brutal reality of a large percentage of people out there, and it motivates you to share their anguish, to react to you, since Harry, Tyrone or Marion did not do it. All the inability of individuals to overcome their inner loneliness as well as the leveling of their dreams from society itself is given through elaborate and elegant shots. Every demanding movie lover who does not rest on the American happy end deserves to see the “Funeral Trail” or else “Requiem for a Dream”.
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