Our generation has seen a lot. Growing up with violent images hurled at us on television, at the movies and in video games, it takes a lot to shock the youth of today.
In Requiem for a Dream (Artisan), director Darren Aronofsky (Pi) sets out to create a horror movie that will shock the young people of today, and connect with them through the shock treatment.
This is a generation that has grown up with a tremendous amount of MTV, said Aronofsky at an interview with local college journalists. To reach people who have seen so much sick stuff, you’ve got to have a heavy-duty impact. I was a TV junkie and made this movie for TV addicts.
Requiem is 120 percent impact. Showing the same mastery of film-editing techniques and innovative directorial concepts that made his first movie, Pi, an instant masterpiece, Aronofsky builds a touching and horrifying tale that will cause anyone in the audience to turn away at one point or another.
I wanted to make a modern horror film where it was a one way swan dive into psychosis, he said.
Inspired by a Hubert Selby book, Requiem for a Dream follows a year in the lives of four characters. Jared Leto (Fight Club, My So Called Life) plays Harry, a heroin junkie. He is joined by Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) as his friend and fellow junkie Tyrone, and Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) as his girlfriend Marion.
I wasn’t interested in making a junkie movie, Aronofsky said. The movie is really about addiction. Anything can be a drug, even hope.
The fourth story told in the movie supports this point precisely. The plot line follows Harry’s mother Sara, played by Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist). After receiving word over telephone that she has been accepted as a contestant for a TV show, Sara, with the help of friends in her building, begins a diet in order to get in shape for TV. She gets so hooked on the dream of every mother – to talk about her family on national TV – that she becomes hooked on diet pills.
Sara was my favorite character, she is the reason I made the film Aronofsky said. The other characters we’ve seen before, but we’ve never seen the Sara character.
With four main characters to tell the story, Aronofsky is able to show off his directorial prowess. He uses split-screen filming like it has never been done before. In one scene between Harry and Marion, Aronofsky uses a split-screen despite the fact that the two characters are in bed together. On one side of the screen features Harry’s body and the other side shows Marion’s. Aronofsky films close-ups of the actions of wandering hands and open mouths while Harry and Marion tell how much they love each other.
I really wanted Harry and Marion’s love to be a very, very deep, holding-each-other kind of love, Aronofsky said. I don’t like to do sex scenes without a reason, and I didn’t have to do that with Marion and Harry.
The love story between Marion and Harry is one of the most powerful aspects of the movie. They are a perfect match for each other, but allow addictions to get in the way of their relationship. The honesty with which Leto and Connelly portray their characters is amazing and ultimately dreadful when the relationship crumbles. It is even more amazing that such the performances come from two actors who have yet to carry a serious starring role.
Marlon Wayans successfully breaks from the less-dramatic roles he is usually cast in and gives a solid performance as the inner-city junkie who is always having run-ins with the law.
Ellen Burstyn is simply fantastic as Sara. Her superb acting allows the audience to easily follow the downward path she travels in order to gain notoriety – creating a progression that is possibly the most chilling part of the movie.
In Pi, we tried to make a movie from one point of view, Aronofsky said. In Requiem, all four characters have a separate story, and split-screening allows us to show that story.
Much like television, which shows a new image about every three seconds, the pacing of Requiem is very fast. New images are constantly being thrown at the viewer, especially at the end, when each character has his own painful fall.
All four characters just go down, down, down, Aronofsky said. They descend about as deeply as anyone can.
The music, an eerie mix of electronica and classical music reminiscent of the music in A Clockwork Orange, backs up the movie’s fast pace and bizarre nature. The sound effects also serve to create tension in some scenes, such as the ticking of a metronome when Sara struggles with her diet.
Requiem for a Dream could be the most thought-provoking film released this year. Every screenshot is an insight into the world of addiction. Audience members, especially college students, will come away from the film having learned something not only about addicts, but about themselves as well.
Requiem for a Dream opens in theaters Friday.