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Requiem For A Dream

Requiem For A Dream is Darren Aronofsky’s second full feature film, after the award-winning masterpiece Pi. And once again, Aronofsky succeeds in bringing us a simple yet complex and compelling drama.

Requiem is based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr. and tells the story of four pitiful persons, each hooked on their own kind of drug. The oldest character, Sara Goldfarb played masterfully by Ellen Burstyn, spends her time watching ignorant gameshows on television. Her wildest dream comes true when she gets a phonecall from a specialised firm, telling her that she is selected to participate in a gameshow. The prospect from appearing on television brightens up her life and from that moment on, her whole existence revolves about fitting into a red dress, the epitome of a long forgotten life. But time has taken his toll, and she can no longer fit into the gloryful dress of past times… untill she visits a docter that prescribes her diet-drugs.

Her son Harry, skillfully played by Jared Leto, his girlfriend Marion, the ever beautiful Jennifer Connelly, and their friend Tyrone, played by Marlon Wayans are already established heroin users. They come up with a plan to make money by dealing instead of only using. Unfortunately, fate has it that their plans go miserably wrong.

The protagonists in this story are all hoping for a better future and they have the common idea that they are absolutely not addicted. They are very much convinced that the temporary addiction to drugs will help them in achieving their goals. What makes Requiem for a Dream refreshing is its reluctance to paint its characters as either villains or victims. Although all characters are addicted, Aronofksy makes it impossible to not like and empathize with them. They’re simply normal people afflicted by common insecurities and doubts.

The perfomances of the actors deserve to be mentioned here. Ellen Burstyn plays her character extremely believable which is bizare as it is the character the least people will empathize with. Jennifer Connelly is not only beautiful, but the way she brings the frailty and brittle elements of her character to life, proves that she is one of the most talented young actresses out there. Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans deserve to be mentioned here too as their performances are indispensable in making this movie work.

Sound and Vision:
The 1.85:1 anamorfic widescreen looks great. All scenes look great, sharp, and detailed. The colors are very strong when used and suffer no bleed or lack of separation. It is darkness, however, that overwhelms the film and the black level here is deep and delivers the gloom appropriately. The print itself is absent of blemishes or artifacts but for one little glitch in the dead center of Tyrones eye, annoying yet harmful.

The DTS 5.1 soundtrack is great. The musicscore by Clint Mansell is an interesting mix of strings and techno beats. It fits the nature of the film but can easily stand on its own too. Your subwoofer gets to blast away at the right moments and there is some nice surround imaging as well. All dialogues are treated well, sounding crisp and distortion-free.

Extras:
Loads of extras on this Universal release.
– deleted scenes with directors comment
– memories, dreams and addictions
– cast and crew interviews
– anatomy of a scene
– the making of requiem
– production notes
– trailers

First of all, the whole DVD and extras menu is creative and very innovative. It’s conceived as some kind of stupid television commercial praising some cheap junk. I first thought I switched to the wrong channel. Now, Aronofsky’s comments are useful and quite fun, there are always details directors point out that you would never have seen otherwise. The ‘memories, dreams and addiction featurette is an interview with the writer Hubert Selby Jr. Strange man… But what I can definitely appreciate are the 7 deleted scenes with optional directors comments. The rest of the extra’s are pretty self-explainatory.

Conclusion:
Requiem For A Dream is without a doubt one of the most compelling movies of 2002 and in my opinion one of the best non-hollywood movies of recent years. It certainly deserves its high ranking on Imdb (at the time of writing #44/250). Aronofsky gave us a bleak, grim and horrifying view of what an addiction can do to normal, everyday people. A must-have for movie-fans!

Our Score:
9.0

posted in: DVD, Reviews, Universal
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