In 1978, the year John Carpenter’s “Halloween” came out, Hubert Shelby Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn) published a novel titled, “Requiem for a Dream.” It’s about four individuals who succumb to drug addiction as each of them try to achieve a specific goal. Fresh from his directorial debut “Pi,” Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) met Hubert to adapt Requiem for a Dream into a film.
Requiem for a Dream was officially released in 2000. (same year Memento came out) It received critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. Besides unanimous praise, the film made enough money at the box office. Ellen Burstyn was nominated at The Oscars for “Best Actress.” Unfortunately, Julia Roberts won for her performance in “Erin Brokovich.”
There are three reasons why I wanted to share my thoughts on this film. First, Darren Aronofsky’s next film, “The Whale” starring Brendan Fraser, will be released sometime this year. Second, Jared Leto’s latest role is playing Spider-Man villain, “Morbius.” Third, Jennifer Connelly will co-star with Tom Cruise in the highly anticipated “Top Gun: Maverick.”
The following review contains no crucial SPOILERS. I’m giving some of you a chance to see this masterpiece.
Healthy & Unhealthy Aspects
Healthy: Jared Leto, Marlon Wayans, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly (one of my favorite actresses) & Christopher McDonald all did an excellent job for their respective performances.
Darren Aronofsky did a fantastic job visually translating Hubert Shelby Jr.‘s novel.
Clint Mansell (Doom Patrol) orchestrated an unforgettable soundtrack. It’s used in many trailers including “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “Zathura,” “Sunshine” just to name a few. I’m surprised Clint’s music never got an Oscar nomination for “Best Original Score.” I can listen to the soundtrack all day. Clint deserves Bonus Points.
Cinematography uses different types of camera shots like a “fisheye lens” and a mounted camera filming the subject called, a “snori-cam.”
A unique editing technique known as “Hip-Hop Montage.” You’re probably wondering, what the heck is it? A Hip-Hop Montage is fast cutting numerous shots in a millisecond.
Chemistry between Harry, his mother Sara, his girlfriend Marion and his best friend Tyrone serve as the main highlight. His interactions with them moves the story forward.
Each character is motivated to achieve his/her dream. Harry & Marion want to open a fashion store, Tyrone wants to leave the drug business and Sara tries to lose weight before she goes on TV wearing a red dress she wore to Harry’s high school graduation.
Even though the film lacks an antagonist, primary conflict is about the characters’ inner demons spiraling out of control.
The film is told in three seasons as part of a Three Act Structure. Summer is Act I, Fall is Act II and Winter is Act III.
Primary Themes are Addiction, Ambition, Nostalgia, Downfall, Consequence, Hopes & Dreams. Each one is handled maturely.
To prepare for the roles, Darren instructed Jared & Marlon not to consume sugar or have sex for a whole month as a sign for them to experience withdrawal. Jared actually befriended real life drug addicts for research. Jennifer also designed her own clothes and lived in a shabby apartment all alone.
Requiem for a Dream serves as a cautionary tale on the dangers of drug addiction. Without giving too much away. If you don’t get clean for the sake of your health and loved ones, you’ll face the consequences.
My favorite line is “Purple in the morning, blue in the afternoon, orange in the evening and green at night.” “Just like that one, two, three, four.”
One scene with a character experiencing hallucinations, suddenly becomes a horror movie.
Keith David (HBO’s Spawn, Arbiter from the Halo series) & Mark Margolis (Hector from Breaking Bad) make brief appearances.
Hubert Shelby Jr. himself made a cameo appearance as a prison guard. He also co-wrote the script with Darren.
Pacing never felt fast nor slow. I was quite entertained from start to finish.
I refuse to tell you The Ending. All I can say is, holy crud! The Third Act is extremely intense, you’ll have a hard time sleeping!
Unhealthy: I couldn’t find nothing wrong. I’m giving Darren and the crew an Extra Point for making a flawless film as possible.
THE FINAL VERDICT: A, FOR APEX!
Requiem For A Dream is arguably Darren Aronofsky’s magnum opus. If you’re interested in seeing Jared Leto’s best work before Morbius, I strongly recommend it. Don’t forget to read the novel. I think Requiem for a Dream should be included in The Criterion Collection.