Requiem for a Dream
A requiem defines a song that is played for the dead. A death march as you will. Never has the choice of words been so relevant for a movie.
As I walked firmly toward my seat at the lecture hall where the film was being shown, a small annoying infomercial was playing on the screen like a notorious fly on the wall: just close enough to tease your senses, but far enough to be out of reach. The lights close and the ride then began.
The movie began with an infomercial, adding to my annoyance of it all, but then transitioned into "Lux Ęterna" and its powerful, epic, and dark sound, sending the atmosphere into darkness, foreshadowing what was yet to come. This rollercoaster was one heck of a rollercoaster indeed.
While the story documents the descent into madness from summer into fall and winter for each of the main characters, the style was very different. The constant use of montages, especially of the drug-intake shots, began was bothersome nuisance, making me feel as though it was just a useless technique to lengthen the movie. As the world itself spun out of control, those moments became temporary relief from the action. It was, in essence, an incredibly powerful way of causing the audience to empathize at least transiently with the characters, even if it is the mother, who often is the subject of my sympathy. Unfortunately, those moments became short lived.
Those moments contrasted with stretches of scenes where the camera isolated the head of the actor. This unveiled all emotions of the characters and the sense of desolation and isolation that comes crashing down after each action they took to perpetuate their downfall. There was simply nothing the audience or the characters could do to stop it. The film simulated learned helplessness.
The climax of the movie was a 20-minute barrage of incredibly disturbing imagery accompanied by an equally powerful score to follow. There were times when I had winced in subjective pain, as I could vividly remember the smile of one of the characters. The rapid onset of disgust swelled within me, but the movie would not let up; other scenes of equally disgusting scenes simply followed. The ride finally completes itself; the spiral was complete and the final scene played. It was in fact a dream that one of the character had, perhaps forecasting a hope that never was. I was dumbfounded, simply with naught else to say.
Is Requiem for a Dream a recommended movie to watch? Yes, the powerful imagery and the message is manages to deliver was loud, clear, and incredibly unsettling. It deserves every bit of that "unrated" rating.