Requiem For a Dream (UK - BD RB)
Marcus sits down to watch a film he's been avoiding rewatching for 11 years...
Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are having a great summer. They have a steady supply of drugs and plans to make themselves rich. Even Harry's mother (Ellen Burstyn) has had some good news, she's been selected to go on a TV quiz show. Everything is great. That is until a local drug feud makes the drugs in town sparse and the trio of friends suddenly realise their casual drug use is more than a habit and Harry's mum's all new diet pills have more of an effect on her than just losing weight. Hold on tight, this is going to get intense.
Y’know what, I think I’ve been subconsciously avoiding rewatching Requiem for Dream. Not in a negative way, I think the movie is awesome but I think since having my first run in with it back in 2000, the thought of sitting down to watch it again is akin to knowingly going back to school and being bullied or something.
Requiem for a Dream is that overbearing to me, it builds and builds and builds and even though the pay off is somewhat epic, it’s an epic of bleakness and sadness and pain and absolute horror.
That opening act, with its celebration of a bright summer full of drug use and happy-go-lucky attitudes and love between friends and a mother’s chance to go on TV is fast and fun and full of life and even on this rewatch when I knew where this all goes I still got caught in the false sense of security that the almost feel good story generates. These young modern characters have it all, friends, honesty, fun and an idea to make their lives better. Of course we discover this is all bullshit. Once the casual drug use is taken away and the character’s realise it isn’t a casual thing at all, the bright summery world is gone.
Aronofsky leads us down a dark side alley we didn’t even know was there in his story. When these characters' lives begin to fall apart and their need for drugs rises, Aronofsky gives us a sucker punch to the gut but it doesn’t end there. It’s followed through with a hard clump to the face and when we hit the floor we get a good kicking. With the ever intensifying score, the quicker cuts and the slower painful depictions of all the bad shit that these character are now going through in their world of darkness and turmoil Requiem for a Dream suddenly becomes one of the most beautiful looking nightmares cinema has ever created. Honestly if there’s anyone in your life that you feel is abusing their drug habit, or is going off the rails or is just hovering around making a bad choice: watch this with them. Show them how wrong it can all go. Nothing hits utter despair like this film.
Everything about the fallout of this tale is horrifying. Harry’s infected arm didn’t need to have another needle in it to freak me out but he still does it (and it freaks me out). Marion’s downward spiral makes me feel more and more uncomfortable with every awful choice she makes and on a side note “ass to ass” is a go to phrase between some of my friends when we want to signify how bad things have gotten. Ellen Burstyn’s performance is absolutely gut wrenching to watch as the unintentional drug abuse takes over her mind and if there’s a scarier thing than her refrigerator in movies, I ain’t seen it. That thing is the devil, I swear! In the grand scheme of things Marlon Wayan’s character seem to have got the best deal at the end (ending up stuck in a racist prison) but that shows just how bleak and twisted Requiem for a Dream gets by the end because you start weighing up the overbearing bleakness and THAT seems like a good option compared to the other characters' fates?? Seriously what is wrong with my brain after this movie?
To round this section off, I'll quote a what a friend said when I mentioned I'd rewatched Requiem for a Dream. "I've only seen it once, ten years ago but I could tell you absolutely everything that happens in it". It perfectly sums up the impact this film has. It gets in your head and stays there and I don't know what's wrong with me but somehow it's utter bleakness makes me love it.
During the opening credits, the image looked a bit of a washy, hazy mess mess. The transfer had a grubby unloved look to it and I wasn't at all impressed. Post opening credits thankfully everything gets a whole lot cleaner. There's some rich detail, especially in the close ups of characters' faces and the drug preparation imagery. Small things like the cop's gun that Harry snatches has some fantastic detail on the leather belt strap and Harry's mother's red dress is wonderfully bright, popping out of the drab backgrounds.
Generally skin tones are very natural but in some of the darker or weaker lit scenes they can be a little off. That said, Jared's black hair and indeed Ellen Burstyn's dyed red hair are very detailed and full of rich colour. However in the second half of the film when the green and greys sneak in, the bleak image can look quite hazy outside of some of the more shadow filled scenes that have deep blacks and create a very nice looking image.
Well there's no way we can start the audio section of this review without first hitting Clint Mansell's incredible score. Despite its overuse in other movie trailers (but boy does it always work) this still has the desired effect to the film it was made for and man alive it's never sounded so good. The uneasy mood the score creates with its aggression and repetitive building nature is a thing of wonder here, with multiple layers, small tonal touches and a power that early on in the movie sometimes even overpowers some of the dialogue. It's just a classic score and here it's another character that's strong presence is pretty much constant.
To add to the incredible edits and cuts in this movie we get short sharp hits of audio to shock us whenever we change season. The word 'summer' should not make my heart stop but these cuts hammer home every time. Ambience in scenes is also strong but it's the things to startle us that hammer out of all the channels. Ringing phones, ticking clocks, closing doors everything is there to shock us or to amp up the tension and nothing gets more shocking or full of tension than Harry's mother's refrigerator, which is a loud aggressive monster that constantly makes me feel uneasy. Stop moving dammit!
We open with trailers for Control, Amelie, Lost in Translation
and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind then we're onto the film's features.
The first commentary by Darren Aronofsky is quite a laid back discussion about his film and the book it's based on. he covers the shoot, the story, the design of the cuts and his actors and while it's a pretty standard track it's very good one for any Aronofsky fans.
The second commentary track with cinematographer Matthew Libatique looks more at the film's visuals. This is quite a technical track but covers everything about the visual style of every scene.
The making of (35:23 SD) is mainly on set footage with commentary from Aronosky regarding what we're seeing. Setting up scenes, working with actors, how many takes it took to get what he wanted - it's good stuff.
'Memories, Dreams and Addictions: Ellen Burnstyn Interviews Hubert Selby Jr' (19:56 SD) is a pleasant little chat between the actress and the writer of the book/screenplay.
Lastly there are nine deleted scenes with optional Aronofsky commentary as well as two trailers and two TV spots.
Requiem For a Dream is a fantastic film that has Darren Aronofsky beat us up and leave us to sort ourselves out as we recover from his epic of bleakness and dark dark endings for his characters. Somehow in amongst all this turmoil, I love this film. Not a love that demand I watch it as often as possible but a love that revolves around me knowing the film is there to be loved but we don't have to see each all the time and we're both fine with that.
The disc looks pretty great and is an obvious upgrade over the DVD, even with its softer hazier moments and the audio is a track that kicks the shit out of your senses in all the right ways. As for the extras, they are simply lifted from the DVD but it's all good stuff, so those looking for a simply upgrade this isn't a bad little release.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 17th October 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Extras: Commentaries, Making of, Deleted Scenes, Memories, Dreams, & Addictions: Ellen Burstyn Interviewing author Hubert Selby, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans
Length: 101 minutes
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