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Reading time 8 minutes

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Reading time 8 minutes

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«М-Ж» продирается через сюжетные джунгли и находит многократную неожиданную развязку

Reading time 8 minutes

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«Requiem for a Dream»: a manual for a drug addict or a tragic and beautiful story?

The anniversary of a cult movie is the time to review and rethink.

Reading time 11 minutes

In 2020 the film «Requiem for a Dream» celebrated its 20th anniversary. On the occasion of the jubilee, Darren Aronofsky decided to release the director’s version of the film in 4K on October 13. We decided to remember the film, which is familiar to virtually everyone and discuss our impressions.

«Requiem for a Dream» on the screens again (source: KinoPoisk).

The plot

Female perspective

The plot of the film is quite simple. Aronofsky presents us four main characters: Mrs. Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), her son Harry (Jared Leto), his girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and their mutual friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). From the first minutes of the film we learn that each of them has a certain dream: Sara Goldfarb wants to do a popular TV show, Harold and Tyrone are eager to get rich, and Marion sees herself as the owner of a designer store. There is a weighty obstacle between the heroes and their goals – drugs. Addiction becomes the main obstacle to the dream, making all their plans unattainable. All plotlines are brought to a logical end: four heroes pass through summer, autumn and winter. Their destinies are gradually collapsing, and at the end of the film the tragedy reaches its climax. The director managed to find the balance between the storylines and to reveal each character to the full extent.

Carefree “summer” Harry and Tyrone, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

I would not agree with my colleague. Yes, each of the heroes has a dream, but it is not what Aronofsky brings to the surface of the plot. The problem is not drugs, but that the characters are too deep in dreams and illusions because of weak will. Yes, Marion dreams of creating her own clothing brand, but take into account the financial situation of her parents. If the girl behaved more seriously, they would support her endeavor. But is it the main thing for her? In fact, Marion herself wants to spend her life next to Harry and to realize herself. The last one, in a very distorted form, she gets at the end of the film. Yes, Harold and Tyrone dream of a «pound of cleansing» (453 grams of pure heroin) and wealth. Is this what they live for? No! It is important for Harry to be with Marion. She was the first person he thought about during the amputation of his hand. His meaning of life was Marion, not money and drugs. He dreamed that she would succeed in the fashion industry and become truly happy. Tyrone wants to become a significant person in society and is ready to do everything for his «ideal» future. This is shown in a scene where he enthusiastically agrees to work for a drug lord for money and status. In reality, each of them just wants to find his place in life. The drugs in «Requiem for a Dream» are a metaphorical curtain on the window. Heroes dream of getting into the street, but do not go out. They prefer to draw the curtain and not to think that there is a neat yard outside their room. And because they «pull the curtain» regularly, they forget about the existence of the world around them.

Acting

Female perspective

The selection of actors in this film was, as it seems to me, extremely scrupulous. Aronofsky approved for the role of those who will immediately arouse the sympathy of the audience. While watching the film, the characters are not disgusted, but rather compassionate. This is a very well thought out move. Of all the cast, the most memorable is Ellen Burstyn. Her heroine gave me the creeps.

Ellen Burstyn as Sara, frame from the film (source: Yandex Zen).

Men’s view

It’s hard to argue that the cast is definitely beyond any criticism. I would especially like to mention Jennifer Connelly. If the theme of drugs is far from your worldview, the motivation to continue watching will be the charming beauty and stunning game of the main character.

Directing and production

Female perspective

The film was filmed beautifully. Colors, frame staging, scenery and views – all in the same style, pleasing to the eye. The business card of the film is the famous splices of the frames, embodying the use of substances. The film is imbued with the aesthetics of that time and society. The strongest scene is shown at the end of the film picture, where all four heroes lie in the embryo position, embodying their helplessness.

Tyrone in embryo position, frame from film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s view

Stunning «Hip-hop» montage from Aronofsky and just an unreal number of splices! The ingenious breakdown of the film into seasons reminds «The Seasons» by Vivaldi. Montage allows us to feel the pace and rhythm of what is happening and it is the «heart» of the picture and sets the movement. However, I did not have enough flowers in this picture. Perhaps more daring solutions could add extra vividness to what is happening.

Overall impression

Female perspective

The film undoubtedly contains strong scenes that show how harmful drugs are to physical and mental health. Accordingly, the message is quite simple and clear: if there were no heroin and amphetamine heroes in life, everything would be perfect. The disadvantage of this picture is the certainty that none of the heroes will be able to live a normal life and cope with their addiction which has developed since the very first scenes. Therefore, the whole film turns into waiting for the fatal outcome, which will be a disaster for all characters. «Requiem for a Dream», in my opinion, lacked the unpredictability of the plot that Uli Edel was able to create in the film «Christiane F ».

Harry and Marion, frame from the film (source: KinoPoisk)

Men’s View

I did not have enough beautiful, bright, carefree scenes «in summer», I would like more colors. Moreover, the heroes are so often «high»!
Another factor that slightly embarrassed me was the lack of noticeable contrast in the scenes starting from autumn.
I definitely liked the plot structure based on the extremes. If you need a «dope», it is impossible to get it in more than eight million city (the film is set in one of the districts of New York – Brooklyn). Therefore, the heroes go in search not just in a neighboring city or state, but in Florida, the distance to which is more than 8500 km! However, to me, it gives additional dynamics, and in combination with the installation looks organic.

Social significance 

Female perspective

«Requiem for a Dream» is among the 250 best movies. The movie by Aronofsky is considered cult because it shows the drug addiction of the present. «Requiem for a Dream» does not romanticize drugs, it shows how substances break destinies. There is a tendency for all movies or series that mention drug addiction to become quite popular (e.g., TV series «Euphoria», «Eagles», «Elite» and «13 Reasons why»). Is it necessary to show the topic of drug use in movies? Why not? But only as long as the mentioning does not turn into the propaganda of such a lifestyle. By the way, Russian psychologists have noticed that «Requiem for a Dream» has psychotherapeutic properties and allows to fight harmful habits.

Ellen Burstyn on filming (source: Tvkinoradio)

Men’s view

I do not think it is correct to compare this picture with work like «Euphoria», too different contexts. In «Requiem for a Dream», drugs are used as one of the connecting elements of all heroes. The «dope» increases rapidly, time runs faster, and the situation in which the heroes drive themselves becomes increasingly desperate.
Drug propaganda is a bad thing. However, take, for example, the cult movie «Dazed and Confused», which is famous in the USA. Throughout the whole time the heroes «get high» and this is what makes it possible to recreate the atmosphere corresponding to the film’s idea. In this way the director helps the viewer to feel the epoch (the action takes place in the USA in the 70s). Aronofsky also uses drugs in the frame to make the viewer experience emotions. The film’s author tries to convey to us: «Live here and now, not in illusions. Act, be yourself and everything can work out».

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Reading time 4 minutes

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