The film Requiem for a Dream is an example of where the system breaks down. This film received an NC-17 from the MPAA. This type of rating says let us protect the youth of Canada by exempting them from a film that in my opinion should be viewed by every high school student. Now usually we would see the film split down the middle and taken to an R so it could be advertised in family newspapers, play in malls, and it could make the people that made it money. Thank God for Artistan. They allowed the film an R rating and with this they allowed their voice changes,…..it matures,…grows up. Requiem for a Dream is film making at it’s height. When you read the reviews coming out of Toronto you see … “I don’t know if I can say I loved this film, or even that I liked it, but the movie is powerfully dramatic and even brilliant.” Well, I can say I loved it. I can say I liked it and I can say it was powerfully dramatic and assuredly brilliant. I am also of the firm belief that if I see a better film this year I will be ecstatic beyond belief. As of right now I’m shakingly jubilant at having driven way downtown in rush hour traffic and fought with the parking officials, to see a film in a theater with stereo sound and postage stamp screens. Why do I attack the MPAA? Why do I say the system broke down here? This film should be required viewing by every high school kid in the country. It should be unleashed upon them. Will it disturb them? Will it shake their fragile little minds? Will it possibly make a lifestyle change for them? Yes. Yes. Yes.
This film is brutal in the most aggressively harsh reality moments we have in society. Darren Aronofsky has made a film that makes use of everything that film makers like Quinten Tarantino have used to redefine “cool” cinema. Every pulse skip, split screen, frame shake, tracking perspective, fish eye world views, trippy music, and grand dialogue. Aronofsky has gone and made a hardcore John Schlesinger-Midnight Cowboy meets Martin Scorese-Taxi Driver world. This is an example of “cool” meeting harsh reality. The film lulls you into thinking.. “oh yeah baby..light me up one of them..prep the needle hon..hand me the blue one..yeeeaahhhhhhhhh.” I don’t want to get into the specifics, but yeah, it gets rough. Are you happy with where the characters are at the end? No. Should it be different? No. This film has an absolute moral center. I know for a fact that I’ll see this film at least ten times before the end of the year. Not because it is a happy film or because I love dark stories. I’ll see it repeatedly because it is just brilliant film making. This is that painting in the gallery that you look into and wonder how and why the artist decided to use those brush strokes and that shade, and you get to look at it. This is there for you to examine and take with you. It is powerful, powerful film making. Requiem for a Dream is centered around four characters played by Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Marlon Waynes, and Ellen Burstyn. Best actress goes to Ellen Burstyn. This is not a question, but a fact. Her character Sara Goldfarb is one of the great acting performances in history. It is right up there with Betty Davis’ Baby Jane Hudson from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Right there, that type of performance, that level. In other words, this isn’t just an award winning performance, but the type of performance by which others forever judge performances. Her character begins as your grandmother or your mother. Your father or your grandfather has died. She is, for all intents and purposes, alone in this world. She has her little knitting chicle and she has her game shows. Tragically she isn’t special to anyone, she isn’t particularly bright. She has a big heart and no one to share it with, but the heart is cracked, and her life is ending a bit each day in the coma of retirement. One day she gets a call. They want her to be on tv, to be on the show. She’s all excited and thrilled. Something is happening to her. She goes to her closet and pulls out her red dress, the one that she wore to (Jared Leto) Harry’s graduation. She doesn’t see him much anymore, only when he drops by to steal her tv to pawn for smack. As she puts the dress on and tries to zip it up when she realizes that she’s too fat for it. Some friends recommend various diets, but she settles for pills. Now that takes you about thirty minutes into the film with this character. The changes, physical, emotional, mental, when her teeth begin to gnash and grind. When you see her on speed, dragging back down, speeding back up it’s brutal. The delusion, the manic hysteria…”I’m gonna be on tv in my red dress.” It gives me shivers. This role and this performance will live in your memory. Next is Jared Leto’s Harry Goldfarb. This isn’t the junkie son from Jungle Fever, this is the white-boy delusional junkie. Harry is basically a good person. He was your basic All-American good-looking kid. Somewhere along the way, it went bad. He has the beautiful girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and the best friend, Tyrone C Love (Marlon Wayans). Tyrone is our cool connection man, the pal with the line to the narcotics. In other words the best friend with the drug connections. His character has the least screen time, but the biggest point I want to make is that Marlon Wayans is in a movie and he doesn’t suck. Not only that, but he’s really good and plays it right on. A strong supporting role. Then, Jennifer Connelly’s Marion Silver. I really hope she pulls out a supporting actress nomination for this character. She’s our Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver character except, she’s the girlfriend and she’s let down. By the time you get all the way through this film, very lean at under two hours, you’ll be out of breath. It is a towering film, a masterwork, significant, entertaining, enthralling, and poignant. Darren Aronofsky has just officially become a great film maker. Once again thank you Artisan! If it had not been for you this brilliant masterpiece might have been seen by even less people.
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