Wednesday, October 10, 2012

This Is Your Brain On a Drug Movie: "Requiem for a Dream" (2000)

I really thought director Aronofsky used his cinematic tricks to keep "Pi" interesting just so the viewer would not notice a really weak story. With this film, the director finally finds material suited to his style, creating a harrowing journey about drug addiction that makes "Drugstore Cowboy" and "Panic in Needle Park" look like Muppet movies.

Ellen Burstyn is a TV junkie who gets hooked on speed while trying to lose weight. Her son and his gorgeous spoiled girlfriend are hooked on heroin, and spend most of the film trying to score more drugs. The entire film is watching these lives spiral out of control, with the final thirty minutes, where everyone hits rock bottom, being the most intense, hard to watch scenes ever put on film.

Burstyn shows she still has it, and should have beat Julia Roberts' cleavage for the Oscar. Jared Leto makes you forget "My So-Called Life," and every other role he has had where he is the dreamy eyed high schooler all the girls want to date. Marlon Wayans, as Leto's best friend, takes the kind of turn from comedy to drama that must have Jim Carrey pulling his hair out in jealousy. Jennifer Connelly, one of the most beautiful actresses working today, proves she is not just another pretty face in a very difficult, humiliating role.

I saw the uncut director's version of "Requiem for a Dream," and I see why Artisan released it unrated. This is an amazing film, and I look forward to Aronofsky's next work...with a little trepidation. (* * * * *) out of five stars.