Paula over at Paula’s Cinema Club has presented the blogging world with an interesting question: what movies from 2000 to present day will endure to become a future classic? The 2000s have already been fruitful for great films, and there are an extraordinary amount of excellent options to choose from. After narrowing down my list, I kept eyeing one particular film:
Requiem for a Dream is director Darren Aronofsky’s second full-length film, and it is one that is unforgettable for those who have seen it. The film revolves around four Coney Island residents, all who struggle with their own personal addictions.
Ellen Burstyn, in an Oscar nominated role, stars as Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow who spends her days watching television and eating whatever is in her typically full refrigerator. After receiving a phone call saying she was selected to be a participant on her favorite game show, Sara begins obsessing over her weight, determined to fit into her old red dress. Her attempt to follow a diet plan fails miserably, so she goes to the doctor and gets a prescription of diet pills. She becomes addicted to them.
Her son, Harry (Jared Leto), is a heroin junkie who makes a habit of stealing her television and pawning it off for drug money. He regularly dreams of getting rich off a big score with his pal Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans). Harry’s girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), hopes to open a fashion store and is relying on him to strike it rich. All three are users.
As the film progresses, all four main characters hit rock bottom, and we are there with them for every step of the way. This is a brutal movie experience, one that shows the extreme depths that addicts can ultimately reach.
So why will Requiem for a Dream be considered a classic in the future? Let’s take a look:
The Subject Matter
Drug abuse isn’t going away anytime soon. It has been over ten years since Requiem was released, and our country still has an out-of-control drug problem. I don’t see this changing at all, if ever, and Requiem’s message will ring true for countless years.
Darren Aronofsky is still young and should have a long career ahead of him, but there is no denying the man’s talent and repertoire already. Few people can capture the essence of self destruction like Aronofsky, and he uses some creative techniques to show the effects that drugs are having on these characters. Requiem has over 2,000 cuts (most movies of this length have 600-700), and it uses extremely quick shots to show the rapid effects of drugs entering the body. Take a look at this montage as an example:
On top of this, Aronofsky expertly uses a variety of long tracking shots, time-lapse photography, extreme closeups and faraway views. Looking at the film from a critical standpoint, this is some pretty innovative stuff. By the time all is said and done, I am confident Aronofsky’s name will be included in a list of the all-time greats.
- IMDB: Overall rating of 8.4/10 based on over 280,000 votes (#66 on the Top 250)
- 78% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes
- Oscar, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations for Ellen Burstyn’s lead performance
- Chlotrudis Award for Best Movie (plus another six nominations, including Best Director and Best Screenplay)
- In total, the film won 23 awards and received 38 nominations. IMDB has the full rundown.
Who could ever forget composer Clint Mansell’s opening theme? Every time I hear this song, a rush of emotions comes over me. It’s such a beautiful song, but one that is equally devastating given the context. Listen to the theme in all its glory:
The rest of the soundtrack is equally impressive, a perfect fit for the film. It is so well-loved that it even got its own remix album with mixes by Paul Oakenfold, Delerium and Josh Wink, among others.
I don’t care what anyone says, Ellen Burstyn should have won an Oscar for her performance. Sara Goldfarb’s transformation is just heartbreaking and cruel to watch. I can only imagine how difficult it was for Burstyn. Leto, Connelly and Wayans all deliver what are arguably the best performances of their careers. Special mention must also be made of Christopher McDonald as the TV infomercial host, Tappy Tibbons, in an especially memorable performance.
In order to prepare this post, I gave Requiem for a Dream another watch last night. It had been at least four years since my last viewing, and it is just as amazingly disheartening as I remember. Requiem is a brutal, depressing film, but it is an incredible piece of art that its viewers will never forget. It can be argued that this is already a modern classic, and I am confident that it will hold up in the future as well.