Requiem for a Dream Release Date: October 27, 2000 Darren Afronsky Reichel Rating * * * * By Brittany Reichel April 22, 2010 The traumatic dreams of four interconnected people are crushed when a drug addiction gets out of control. Every character seems to have an excuse for their addiction whether it be to lose weight, to start a business, to ‘make it big’, or just to make something of themselves. But with every high, there is always a crash and these four characters risk their lives for an ultimate high with an inevitable and life ending crash.
What is an addiction? A text book definition would remind us that it is not only physical but emotional and a habitual sacrament of one’s own body. Many people suffer day to day from addictions and they all end the same way. In the beginning there is a definite line of control and it shows the beginning and end of what is ‘fun’ and what is ‘dangerous’. But this dependant boundary slowly starts to fade away as the system becomes immune to the increasing dosages. In short the original excuse for the addiction haunts the addict with disturbing images.
The conclusion I draw from the movie Requiem for a dream are as follows; People who are weak enough to not have the feeling of success replace their loneliness and try to cope with a self medicating drug. Requiem means a song or hymn of mourning for the dead. This gives the impression that anyone who has an “unachievable” dream is in a sense already dead inside, and this sonnet is their ballad of despair. I would like to remind the reader that the song plays through the entire movie and it not only foreshadows but reminds us that this song is in fact a song for the dead by the mood that the tones and notes set for each movie scene.
The movie tells a story from an omniscient point of view. The movie begins with the mother and son. He tries to take a television set from her to pawn it off for drugs. The mother, Sara Goldfarb, (Ellyn Burstyn) played in Exorcist is an old housewife who sits in her overused recliner and wears nothing but drabby house dresses all day. Her existing addiction at this time is coffee, sugar, and television. The son, Harry, (Jared Leto) is a short tempered young adult with sunken eyes and a shady sense of morals.
Currently Harry is dating a girl named Marian, (Jennifer Connolley) and his sidekick friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) played in White Chicks, is the cocky friend who becomes Harry’s direct affiliation to drugs also has an addiction to weed and heroine. Sara, the housewife, sticks to daily activities with a posy of old ladies in front of her building where they desperately try to regain a sense of youth by sunbathing in lawn chairs. She is currently picking up on an addiction to an infomercial for life coaching skills.
She receives a call from a man and that says “You’re a winner! You’re going to be on television! ” After receiving this call she recaps her life and decides that the highlight of it was when her only child graduated from high school and she wore a red dress with gold shoes to his graduation ceremony. Eventually she gets diet pills to lose weight and she begins to obsess over this symbolic red dress. As she begins to lose weight and notice an empty echo in her fridge she also begins to lose her sanity.
Eventually she builds up a tolerance to the drugs and she starts double dosing and popping them more and more frequently when the doctor won’t give her a higher dose. Her son on the other hand begins to fixate himself on the ideal dream of ‘the big score’. Tyrone, who is a lot like Jamie in Long Days Journey into Night, spots early on that Harry is losing it big time and you can tell by his reactions in the scenes that he is already foreshadowing the crash. Meanwhile they run out of money to get their fix and their last resort is Marion.
Harry convinces her to sell her body to a dealer to get some more just until they can ‘get back on top’ says Harry. Darren Afronsky is amazing when it comes to seeing the world through the addict’s eyes. He represents each hit they take by a serious of noises and close ups, for instance, pupils dialating, sparking a lighter, the needle drawing the heroine out, and the rolling of the paper, the sniffing it off the table, and all of the other noises affiliated with each hit.
And when they’re ‘tripping’ he shows this scene of complete peace. From an above angle that seems like they themselves aren’t really in their bodies but instead their actual view is from up above and you can see through the angles of the camera that each picture is evidential of what they really are experiencing. You can tell the distance between scenes will give you an impression of how long the drugs actually last. From the time they take effect to the time they crash it seems biologically correct time wise. But then regular veryday events seem to rush by in a flurry without a real sense of time anywhere. The most interesting part of Darren Afronsky’s directing was how he used a split screen innuendo to cast an appealing view of the characters. When they finally reach the ultimate high, Sara is hallucinating and seeing images of her unrealistic self with a game show host. Her son was hallucinating about his girlfriend Marian in the same red dress his mother wore to his graduation. I instantly detected some Freudian messages here.