Saturday, December 11, 2010

778. Requiem for a Dream: An Exercise in Morbidity

...Or How a “Favorite” Film Can Also Be a Painful, Enjoyable Trial

I don’t know anyone out there who would admit to have “enjoyed” watching Daron Aronofsky’s bleak addiction drama. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find someone who can watch this a second time. However, anyone that has seen it can probably vividly recall it. A film like Requiem teaches us a lesson that sometimes, movies aren’t fun to watch and that is not necessarily a bad thing. If movies are meant to move and make us feel, then we must take the painful with the inspiring.

What impressed me about Requiem was that it unflinchingly covered different types of addiction with the same passive voice. There was Jared Leto and an unrecognizable Marlon Wayans (of White Chicks fame) as heroin addicts, Ellen Burstyn as Leto’s mother, who becomes addicted to pills, and Jennifer Connelly, another drug addict/future prostitute and Leto’s girlfriend. The film covers their downward spiral into their addiction and doesn’t end well for any character.


Leto ends up in a prison hospital with his arm amputated, Wayans ends up in a racist prison for drug possession, Burstyn winds up in a mental hospital getting electroshock therapy, and Connelly is the featured star of an anal sex show.


It is safe to say that none of the characters end up in a terribly good place. All of them begin the film with hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and becoming slaves to their addiction which inevitably leads to their major major downfalls. They attempt to use drugs to achieve their dreams, to sell drugs or sex to open a store, or weight loss and sleeping pills to achieve game show success, and it overpowers them and enslaves the characters.

Requiem is really as dark it comes. The last scene is a fantasy vision of what could be had drugs not entered into their lives and somehow it makes the film even more depressing. That vision conflicted with the harsh and painful reality of their lives makes the tragedy of the character’s downfall even more powerful. In short, the movie ends without even the faintest glimmer of hope or redemption for ANY of the characters. A bum out ending is one thing, though usually there is slight hint that the worst is over for the characters. In Requiem, there is a distinct feeling that things will probably get WORSE for them. Aronofsky basically ends the film at what could be the characters rock bottom but with painful YEARS of ordeals in front of them.

Note: Puppy video included to perk readers up.

I can’t watch this movie again. This is really no way I can ever sit through it. I wanted to turn off the damned thing at a bunch of points throughout but I didn’t. Somehow, I kept watched and while I didn’t enjoy the film in the least, I appreciated it a great deal for its honesty and darkness. I have seen a few films that were more depressing (which will be discussed later on in the list) which also fall into this category and they all deserve special mention. Though by the time Requiem for a Dream ended, all I wanted to do is watch cartoons, cuddle my cats, and ponder if I would want to see Jennifer Connelly in an anal sex show (answer was yes).

About the Top 800 Project:

Using the They Shoot Pictures Starting List of 8800 films (LINK) and my Netflix ratings, I sifted through the list and of the 4500 films I’d seen, I selected a random number of films I liked more than the others. The list was about 812 films. I kicked off 12 to get an even 800. The list chronologically goes up to 2009. Each blog entry will list ten films, one of which will be discussed in detail. The ten films will then be posted to The Top 800 Master List, a Google docs file compiling them. When the countdown finishes in what will be probably be a really a long time, I will begin discussing random films that I didn’t get to before.