Requiem For a Dream (2000) Review

Requiem For a Dream (2000) Director: Darren Aronofsky

Photo of an eye (top), movie title (middle), and a photo of a person standing on a pier (bottom)

★★☆☆☆

The plot for Requiem For a Dream is based on the 1978 novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr. –an American writer who often wrote about the unseen, harsh underbelly of American life. His first novel was banned in Italy for obscenity (Last Exit to Brooklyn published in 1964).

It is no wonder that Selby’s writings were considered obscene. Similarly, the film portrays an extraordinarily tragic and graphic downfall of four parallel characters who become addicted to drugs (one of whom is played by then-rising star Jared Leto). Each of the four characters has dreams (dreams that sadly die and face a requiem as the title indicates): one becomes a prostitute and is degraded in various ways, one overdoses, they all try to traffic heroin and amphetamines, one gets arrested and thrown into a racist prison and so on. In the end, they all lie curled up in the fetal position, depressed at the state of their dependent lives.

The film was originally rated NC-17 by the MPAA Rating Board, but a more “tame” R-Rated version was also released. This film was directed by Darren Aronofsky, a New York-based filmmaker known for his dark and occasionally surreal films like Black Swan or The Wrestler.

I tend to like films with redemption and beauty in them. If you are like me, then Requiem For a Dream is not a film for you. It is graphic and grotesque, unpleasant and nauseating. This is not a film I would soon watch again, though I grant a certain merit in persuading addicts to choose a different path from drugs. Its use of the famous montage technique that dates back to the early Eisenstein years of cinema is a unique aspect of the film, however that alone does not make this a good or even watchable film.

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