Thursday, December 16, 2010

Requiem for a Dream. B+


There are two anti-drug movies that people talk about more than anything else, and those are Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, and Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream. The former is one that was an complete burst of energy, but actually not that great of a film. Requiem for a Dream is much better, as it fulfilled the expectations I had for it and also offered a few nice surprises. I should say first that the movie is constantly indulging in creative tricks, most notably the shot of the injection and then the pupil expanding. There are also countless scenes that are sped up, to, as Roger Ebert wisely suggests, show how fast the drugs take effect and then how quickly they go away. This movie isn't frantic like Trainspotting, but it does have a desperate feel to it. The world it depicts becomes more and more warped as the characters (an overweight mother trying to loose weight, her drug addict son, and his girlfriend) descent into a living hell because of their dependance on drugs. I mentioned that there were some surprises during the film, the most notable I think is Clint Mansell's music. This is one of the cinema's most popular and well-known scores, yet I had never heard until seeing the movie. It's really amazing, I think because it conveys the urgency Aronofsky is trying to depict. That he opts for such intense music at the end is essential to the film's message. And unlike Trainspotting, it made me really care. One final note on the movie is how strong the performances by Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn and Jennifer Connellly are. They're very sincere and contrast greatly from the film's visual extravagance. That's key the movie's success because if there was any operatic tone to the acting then I think Aronofsky's film would be unwatchable. That shows how one wise choice can make a film go from that state to being close to great.

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