If you look around and see all the movies that have come out in the last decade, you will see that most of the big box office hits have been big budget action flicks like Transformers. In addition to them being big movies, they also have no real ability to be called a work of art. They’re common, predictable, and uncreative. You do, however get the golden gem every so often. Examples of one of these gems are films like, Black Swan, The Road, Precious, and The Kings Speech. One film I think that can stand out from those is the universally and critically acclaimed film, Requiem for a Dream. It’s somewhat of an older film, having been made in 2000, but sends a kind of message without anything that would annoy you. Having been beautifully crafted by the same genius who directed Pi, Darren Aronofsky, I can say without any doubt, that this is one of the greatest movies of the 21st century.
The film opens with a housewife is chaining her television to the radiator in her dingy apartment. When her son comes to take it (intending to sell it for drug money) she locks herself in the bathroom. However, through some negotiating, she gives up the key for the lock and her son is on his way. As you suspect, it’s a routine that they go through all the time.
After selling the TV, you see that Harry (Sara Goldfarb’s son) in currently living with his longtime girlfriend, Marion and that their best friend Tyrone, who are all addicted to heroin. Not only that, but Sara is addicted to something as well; TV and sugar. But when Sara receives a phone call from her favorite game show, she decides to give up on the food and go on a diet
Meanwhile, Harry, Marion, and Tyrone get their hands on some very expensive and nice heroin and decide to sell it so they can make their “fortune”. The only problem is that when Tyrone is put in jail for being affiliated with a gang dealing drugs, they spend all the money to post bail for Tyrone.
Later, when trying to get back on track, the trio discovers that some new “stuff” isn’t come to New York any time soon because of law crack down. In order to get more “stuff” Harry and Tyrone set out to Florida with the money that Marion had just gotten by having sex with her old physiatrist.
In the meantime, Sara has become addicted to appearing on her game show. The problem is that she has become addicted to her diet pills and starts to take more in one dosage because “"The pills don't work so good anymore." When she begins to hallucinate that her refrigerator is out to get her, she begins to lose all her grip on reality. Eventually she is brought into an asylum when medical treatment isn’t working for her, so they have to use extreme measures that render her incapable of emotion.
During all this, Harry, on his way to Florida with Tyrone, gets his arm infected from all his injections and gets taken to a hospital, when the police catch up to him and Tyrone. Unfortunately ends up needing his arm amputated to save his life, and both Tyrone and Harry are thrown in jail. Marion waits for Harry to return but can’t keep waiting after a few days so she goes to a pimp and becomes a prostitute in exchange for heroin.
As you can see, the whole movie is one downward spiral from one hell to the next. The movie was given the worthless NC-17 rating by the MPAA; rejecting it, Artisan Entertainment asked theaters to enforce an adults-only policy. After being criticized by the general public for being too graphic and grim, another outcry was going against what people were saying. They thought that the movie was one that was true to the world and how drugs worked you down.
Not only is the acting superb (in a grimy and grim sort of way), but the cinematic were phenomenal. The camera in positioned as to give the view some kind of wristed view from the characters perspective. Also, Aronofsky uses powerful close-ups to depict the drug usage. First we see the pills, or fix, filling the screen, then the injection, swallowing or sniffing that blots out the world. Then the pupils of their eyes dilate; all done with an acute exaggeration of sounds.
These sequences are done in fast-motion, to show how quickly the drugs take effect and how disappointingly soon they fade. The in-between times show an edge toward desperation and hopelessness.