Requiem for a Dream, what can I say that hasn't already been said? Well, actually probably a lot. Let me start off with my god honest opinion of this movie, it is a fantastic movie, but it is not an easy movie. I watched this movie twice, and the first time, it beat me senseless, the movie came across the room and it slugged me real good, so when I watched it a second time I thought I'd be fine, wrong, the movie beat me senseless again, completely remorselessly, and perhaps even harder than the first time. The movie is sharp, strong, and like I said, it hits you hard, not in an action movie way, but in a way that the movie beats on your psyche till all you can do is sigh and hope to feel better later.
Let's start with the title, going at it from the top, you might think, "Kinda a cheesy title." Well, let me break it down, Requiem for a Dream would mean, the song for the rest of the dead dreams, that's one hell of a title, it implies two things we see in the movie, dreams, and them being utterly and completely destroyed. The movie is divided into three segments, Summer, the beginning, Fall, the middle, and Winter, the end. Not exactly cheery, but neither is the movie.
The movie begins pretty weak, to the point where you might think that it could be (gasp) a bad movie. The first few shots are pretty cliche, and don't do anything for me, with several basic shots and possibly my least favorite, a cut down the middle shot that has two images displayed. However, the movie sets its tone so powerfully for that first part, in an opening scene where the main character, Harry steals a TV from his mother in order to pawn it for drug money, specifically money for heroin. Before we even see the title of the movie, we see most of this action, ending with the golden line from Harry's mother, Sarah, "As long it all turns out OK."
The acting in this first scene, once again, doesn't do much for me, the lines are delivered, but the movie starts so suddenly that it makes little sense to the audience. However, the acting throughout the movie is surprisingly good, even Marlon Wayans and Jared Leto manage to be very good, of course Ellen Burstyn steals the show as Harry's mother, Sarah Goldfarm.
The movie, as a whole, is about addiction, and how it ruins lives. Every character struggles with their addictions with a dream in mind tossed aside by their addiction. As the movie moves forward, these addictions become more and more extreme, culminating in frightening situations and an overall terrific ending. But let's not be too hasty.
The movie is heavy on foreshadowing, every single line seems to reek of the stuff, and all throughout the first act, characters seem to allude to their ultimate fate, whether it be something slight, or almost overwhelmingly obvious. The beginning also works hard to establish motifs, the sudden and sharp cuts that signify drug use instantly get in your head, and leave a powerful effect. It also shows the style of camera work, no shots are completely steady, and the camera shakes slightly even in pans to set an on edge move, like I said, the movie is sharp. The score settles into the movie early on as well, establishing itself in the opening sequence.
What you notice, early in the movie is that the shots are warm, not very dark, they let in a lot of warm orangey light to reflect the season the movie begins in, Summer, but as the seasons progress, every single set the movie is in gets paler and less warm, almost colder as the seasons get colder and colder. The tone also changes with the seasons, while during Summer everything is handled fairly well in a relaxed matter, by the time Winter begins, the excrement has hit the fan. The lamer shots disappear, and the movie becomes the violently sharp thing that kicked my ass both times. The dialogue gets more tense too, you can feel the effects of the seasons changing on the characters as the stakes get higher and higher, while relationships between them get more and more strained. The movie's smash cuts pick up, and the transitions are less basic, even disappearing, the effects of constant drug use become painfully obvious in a terrifying scene involving Ellen Burstyn being attacked by a refrigerator. The movie doesn't stop there, it picks up to the point where everyone's dreams are ground into nothing.
The movie is a dramatic and powerful experience sure to entertain and absolutely destroy you. I end this review with a bit of dialogue I had with my sister upon finishing the movie, having never seen it, I asked, "So spring never comes?" To which she replied without missing a beat, "No one makes it through the winter."
Sound: A+, great score and snappy noise makes the movie feel completely real and totally adds to the feel.
Visuals: A, minus the very beginning, all shots are perfect for the tone of the movie, and the seemless transitions during dialogue make the visuals a treat. Not to mention some excellent special effects and make-up.
Acting: A, you can never take Jared Leto too seriously, but that just might be my problem. Besides that, amazing acting, Ellen Burstyn of course stealing the show.
Story: A+, like I said, the first half drips foreshadowing, and the second half drips tears onto my face. A fantastic story.
A+, would watch again if I'm ever too happy.