Occasionally a movie comes along that manages to be simultaneously beautiful and devastating, astounding and disturbing, like a kiss followed by a baseball bat to the head. Requiem For A Dream definitely falls into this category, it is staggering and breathtaking whilst at the same time making the viewer want to turn away and never look back at the screen.
The film is based upon the novel by Hubert Selby Jr, if you have seen the adaptation of his other classic book Last Exit To Brooklyn, then you should have an idea of the horrific world into which you are being thrown. How Requiem For A Dream affects you so much is that it first introduces you to a trio of characters that you truly care for, this isn’t a drugs movie based around faceless or hateful junkies that don’t grab your attention, it is the story of a son, his girlfriend and his lonely mother whose best friend is the television showing the same old show day after day after day. The mother’s life receives an injection (ha!) of excitement when she receives a phone call telling her that she is to be featured in a TV show and this leads to her getting out her deceased husband’s favourite dress and working out exactly what she will say when she hit’s the screen, mostly how she loves her husband and her son.
The son, brilliantly played by Jared Leto is introduced taking his mother’s television to raise money for his drug addiction, yet he soon seems to be trying to improve his life by selling the drugs instead of consuming them and putting the money aside to open a store with his girlfriend to sell her designs. To say things do not go as planned for the doomed couple would be an understatement and Jennifer Connelly is utterly stunning as the girl who at first will do anything for her love and then anything for another hit.
The camerawork is astonishing and the use of split screen is reminiscent of Francis Ford Coppola and classic American cinema. The descent into madness sees the action spinning, illuminating and all together crashing down and this accompanied by a brilliant soundtrack by Clint Mansell creates an atmosphere that astounds and eventually suffocates.
To go into any more detail would destroy the journey you take with these characters, but you can be sure that you wont forget it once you start down the road to destruction.