Requiem for a Dream (2000)

I just... I... I watched this movie, and it was as if it was specifically written to be as relatably disturbing as possible. Having watched as many movies as I've watched over the years, I've seen lots of bad attempts at being creepy or distressing, and I kind of expected this to be the same. But, this is in a whole different league of dark and anxiety-inducing.

I'm not sure that there is a main character in this movie, but if there is, it's Jared Leto. He plays the young guy who is addicted to various substances and is trying to put something together so that he's not always scrounging for money (by doing things like pawning his mother's TV) and he can provide for himself, his mother, and his girlfriend. Jared recently made headlines in Dallas Buyers Club, and I think he may very well have done a better job in this role.

Ellen Burstyn plays Jared's aging and borderline senile mother. While she initially appears to just be a side character, her own story (even though it involves little more than dieting and watching the same, stupid TV show) is pretty compelling in its own right. While Jared is dealing with all the drugs on his side, she deals with the desire to fit into an old dress and takes pills to make that happen. Honestly, though, the most compelling scene is when she explains to Jared what it is like for her to live life as an old lady. I may be haunted by it for some time.

Jennifer Connelly plays Jared's girlfriend and fellow addict. We watch as she rides his highs and lows with him and generally becomes dependent on him for everything. As he becomes more interested in his own problems, she starts to drift around from one easy way to get money to the next, sleepwalking through her life in some of the most depressing ways possible.

One of the strange things about the movie is the almost random effect that drugs have on people. Ecstasy? Sometimes it acts like an upper, sometimes a downer. The same is true for cocaine, heroin, and even marijuana. You would think that people in Hollywood would know exactly what effect different drugs have, but there was a noticeable inconsistency when it came to them.

The thing that really stands out about this movie is the directing. The many, many, many quick cuts combined with the odd angles, shaking, evil refrigerator, unexpected close-ups, etc, make this a visual delight that adds extra punch to the drug-infused haze that the characters are dealing with.

If I had something to complain about, it would be the mood music. It's pretty bad 80's synthesizer stuff that intrudes a little too much on the scenes where used. I could have done without that. Otherwise, this is a horribly distressing movie that I likely won't ever watch again, but it's worth watching the first time.

Directing was great
Acting was great
Story was pit-of-the-stomach good
Effects were good enough
Dialog was very good

4.5/5

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