Requiem for a Dream 18 (2000)
Dir: Darren Aronofsky; Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans
If ever there was an advert for not becoming a junkie then this film is it. It should be shown to high school students in their PSHE lessons instead of those pointless cartoons because if I was about to shoot up for the first time and remembered just for one second what Leto’s arm looked like by the end of Requiem for a Dream then I’d pop the needle in the bin and read a book instead.
That I have not seen this film until now is a source of embarrassment – perhaps I was too afraid of seeing Leto, childhood crush Number One from his days as a brooding teen in ‘My So-Called Life’, fall, on screen at least, from grace. I am glad that now I too can share in the desperate misery that this film brings to the screen.
I assume everyone else knows the plot so, in short, Requiem for a Dream tells four parallel stories of people trapped in a hellish circle of addiction, all just looking for a better life. You’ve got a widower, Sara Goldfarb (Burstyn) who lives a lonely existence and just wants her addict son (Leto) to be happy. After getting a call from a television company about appearing on screen she starts dieting furiously and eventually ends up on diet pills. Then there’s Leto’s girlfriend (Connelly) and his best mate (Wayans) who have all succumbed to chemical love.
There is no hope in sight and all that is offered is pain, evil and the horrors of living in relative poverty, all put together very cleverly, by the way, with Aronofsky cutting together the various scenes of getting high, from the cutting to the chopping, the eyes dilating and Mrs Goldfarb’s ever-increasing hysteria about her forthcoming TV appearance (which, of course, never comes).
There are no happy endings: a bleak, unrelenting depiction of lives not worth living. Maybe I will shoot up after all.