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Requiem For A Dream


Year: 2000 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Proclaimed by many as a young director in a similar mould to the great Oliver Stone, Darren Aronofsky has brought to the screen his second dark and disturbing observation of the self-destructive nature of the human pysche. Similar to his unforgettable debut in 1998, Pi, Requiem For a Dream is both a tough and unflinching depiction of addiction and descent into an world of chaos and misery.

Harry (Leto) and his partner (Damon Wayans) are drug dealers with dreams of the big time. Bored of doing small-time business on dangerous side-streets, the two attempt to get hold of the perfect high, sell it a profit and escape to their chosen destinations. Meanwhile, Harry's mother, (Burstyn), a lonely widow and TV junkie, has her dreams come true when she is asked to appear on her favourite TV game show. The dreams of all those involved quickly begin to sour, though. The perfect high, as we quickly begin to learn, is just a facade. The road to riches and to TV fame is a slippery one, and Aronofsky is dedicated to his stark portrayal of each character's demise and eventual dramatic fall.

Again Requiem proves that Aronofsky is a talent to watch out for. Critics have hailed it as a 'montage of misery', uncompromising and void of any sense of catharsis. With a climax that runs seemingly without end, and a truly harrowing depiction not only of addiction, but greed, and enslavement to the ideal of the 'perfect high', Aronofsky's second serving to the cinema-going public is gritty and painful. Burstyn offers an incredible turn as the lonely old widow, obsessed with her weight and addicted to dieting pills.

Although the plot is simple, and perhaps even stereotyped, Requiem For a Dream provides the perfect canvas for Aronofsky's emerging style. Many films have told the story of drugs and their terrible effects, but few have done it with such innovation and unflinching intensity. A warning comes with this review however. Be prepared. Be very prepared for the film's climax. A quartet of conclusions brings forth an eclectic mix of horrifying events and images. Predictably, there is no happy ending here.

For those who have seen Pi, you may well have an idea what to expect. For those who haven't, good luck, and prepare yourselves for a true cinematic experience.

Sam Moore

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Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Summer Term (35mm)