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Saturday, 5 February 2011

Review: Requiem for a Dream

Written by David Clarke

mail.jpgHarrowing. Adjective;

Hard to accept or bear especially emotionally. It's origins come from 12th Century England, 'harrow' meaning to plunder or pillage. 
For us non-historians in the 21st Century it's hard to understand the suffering that the English people must have gone through in the times in which the word harrow first arose in our language. However, today the word is not used lightly and is reserved especially for our experiences that require great effort and fortitude to bear. Watching Requiem for a Dream is one of these experiences. Now it is important to understand that I am not equating watching a fictitious movie to real-life hardships that people witness. However if you are watching movies properly then you will be able to understand what I mean.

In Requiem for a Dream, the characters are instantly identifiable and easy to feel emotive towards. This is not suggesting that we all have horrendous drug addictions, but it is the way in which these characters are initially striving towards personal goals and principally Happiness. This can be seen in the way in which the film is not just dominated by Heroin addiction, but also other story lines where drugs are merely the vehicle not the end goal. Overall there is no doubt that the characters have been perfectly written and beautifully executed by their respective actors. It is this that enables the film to become so effective and hit so hard.

Of course the characters are nothing without the situations that they are in. However once again I will try hard not divulge too many details on the story-line itself, If you are intrigued by this review then watch it and find the story out for yourself, with this and all films in general this should be your chief goal as it is undoubtedly the most rewarding one.

Following on from this it becomes pertinent to discuss the stylistic attributes of the film for two reasons. First of all if you have already seen this film then you can agree/disagree/discuss how awesome the they are and the effects that they have had on recent film and television. Secondly if you have not seen this film before you can be well aware of these great techniques and focus on enjoying them and how they contribute to your viewing experience.

What I feel is the most impressionable is the use of what in 'the biz' is known as a SnorriCam, whereby the camera is attached to and facing the actors so that to the audience it seems that it the scenery that is moving, not the actor. Undoubtedly you have seen this technique before in any of the many films, TV programs and music videos that use this, but for me Requiem for a Dream uses it best. It is used extensively throughout the film, but only during and after moments in which the character in question is experiencing strong emotions, connecting us directly to said character and emotion, giving it that hard-hitting emotive feeling.

There are more stylistic attributes that deserve mention, such as the way in which scenes are cut-up, bringing a heightened sense of dramatic tension to the scenes in which it is used, especially during the soul crushing ending. Despite it's impressive and powerful use I feel as if it is time to bring in the reigns on this review.

Requiem for a Dream is an unquestionable masterpiece, the direction is innovative, unbelievably effective and near flawless. I would have no problems in stating that the acting is the finest that any of the cast is yet to produce, Marlon Wayans in particular, yes, MARLON WAYANS! NO I am not kidding MARLON WAYANS is exceptional. The rest of the cast is just as exceptional and I genuinely believe that it is impossible to find a movie where any of the cast members produce a better performance. 

There is a but, I began this review with a definition of the word Harrowing not just to be a pretentious git, but also to highlight the dangers of watching this film. If the dictionary were to be re-written they surely would replace the definition above with this film. The ending is unbearable to watch for it's extremities. I would heavily advise that if you are easily upset or offended then you should think twice before turning it on. If you decide that you are going to watch it for the love of god don't watch it alone and make sure you have something light-hearted to watch/do straight away afterward, I found this out the hard way. (But do watch it because it truly is amazing)

Wishing you many sleepful nights.

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