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Requiem For A Dream

Posted by Player under Drama

Requiem For A DreamIn our day and age, most of us do not appreciate or even get the opportunity to view great art. Our busy lifestyles are filled with work, family, and an occasional movie, so to most of us, film has become the one artistic form that can at times be great art for us. I am discounting music, because the proliferation of commercialism has taken something away from popular music that somehow at least in my mind has cheapen it. What I mean by great art, is art that allows us to view something in a completely different way, and which may not necessarily change our opinion, but will in fact give us pause, reference, and at its height understanding. To me, most films do not do this, I do not get much pause from say “Austin Powers 2” or even a good movie like “Gladiator”. These films are entertaining but not great art in that they extend outside the genre of film to be more than what they are, which is just a good movie. However there are times when a movie can achieve a great art status and such a film is rare, not in that there are few of them, but that you rarely choose to view one. Such a film as Requiem For A Dream, does achieve the status of great art and so this is why I implore you to view this film at a time when you feel that you can enjoy some great art. Let us now begin…

Story line:

The story line is very naturalistic, resembling something that maybe Zolar (the founder of French Naturalism) would write if he would be alive today. Naturalism for most people is depressing, but its foundations have more to do with how human nature will digress to a point of “moral decay”, from which there can be no return than simply depicting depressive states. In Zolar’s novels this naturalism was founded in one of his character’s exposure to laundry work, and how that led to her downfall; the hidden meaning being that exposure to people’s filthy clothes will eventually decay your moral fiber. Most people will identify more with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which depending on who you ask, may or may not be a naturalist work. The same decay of morality, of civilization is rooted in Heart of Darkness as in Requiem For A Dream, but instead of colonialism, the driving factor is drug abuse. Requiem For A Dream follows the moral decay of a lonely old woman, her son, his girlfriend, and his best friend, as they deal and try to survive their drug abuse. From simple dreams of being on TV to opening a store, each character is highlighted than drawn down into a spiraling downfall. The story line implicates drugs in general and makes no distinction between a cup of coffee, prescription drugs, or street cocaine. The sin is the same if you crave it, you are an addict.

Acting Notes:

I did not recognize any of the actors except for Jennifer Connelly and one of the Wayan’s brothers who plays the best friend. Connelly’s performance is excellent even though I still regard her as an unproven actress, she is perhaps the most convincing flighty airhead addict since Courtney Love’s performance in Larry Flynt. Wayan’s performance is equally superb and subtle. The other characters are even better and have larger roles. There is both emotion and probably the most hard to capture moments when the scene entails feelings that for the most part cannot be spoken.

Look and Feel:

The film is definitely concerned with sound and visual depiction. While Zolar’s novels are very detailed and paint very concrete backgrounds and scenes, Requiem For A Dream, establishes this in film by using very simple but effective techniques. First of all most of the dialogue in the movie is shot with close-ups of the face and eyes. The director manages to bring out the dialogue by focusing directly on facial expressions, in this way the camera inspects the truth and half truths of faces, so you not only get the inflection, but you can verify it visually if the words actually mean something else. The other method the camera uses is to show quick shots of drugs, cigarettes, cocaine melting, coffee being slurped, pills being popped. While the shots may sometimes be artsy, the effect is not, it is a quick glimpse into not only how casual these strange and abnormal behaviors can be as well as their effect on both the consciousness of the camera and the actor. Lastly the camera uses some sped-up film sequences to show how life can span quickly when things do not matter, when happiness supposedly takes place. In this way the film focuses entirely on the despair and the jeopardy of the characters. Audio is perhaps the second most important depiction, the director chooses his sound effects very carefully from the snorting of cocaine, to the relief of downers to the boiling of crack on a spoon. Most of the artsy shots of drugs are done with effective sounds that bring out the quickness and direct effect of drugs. Besides sound effects that are precise and distinct, which the director repeats often throughout so that you can become accustomed to them and their effect, a spectacular musical score accompanies many of the scenes. A minor scale in D or F maybe, is chillingly echoing through out many of the scenes and entirely throughout the ending sequences. It is a simple score like most of the other techniques in the film, but one that is immediately recognizable and at the same time enchanting.

Final Notes:

The DVD format usually is touted as being the best format for movies like Star Wars with large amounts of SGI and surround effects, but yet with all the precision of a multi-million dollar project like Star Wars, Requiem For A Dream manages to outdo most films in all three important aspects: Character acting, Camera use, and Audio accompaniment. Some may want to compare this film to a movie like the 3-hour film Magnolia which starts off as a naturalist depiction, but somehow happens to find a happy ending for most everyone, but they would be wrong. While Magnolia has almost the same feel, and its score is also amazing, Requiem For A Dream is a much better naturalist work, for it is simplistic in every individual form, but is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

5 out 5 stars

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