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Requiem for a Dream(2000)
Twin stories about different kinds of addiction: A young man (Jared Leto) who along with his best friend (Marlon Wayans) and girlfriend is addicted to heroin, dreams of transcending his life of hustling and owning a store in New York City, while his mother (Ellen Burstyn), depressed and obsessed by television and diet pills envisions her chance to shine again on a game show.
For more about Requiem for a Dream and the Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray release, see Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on August 31, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald, Keith David
Director: Darren Aronofsky
» See full cast & crew
Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray Review
Drugs are bad, mmmkay?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, August 31, 2009
Be, excited, be, be, excited!
Darren Aronofsky's masterpiece of terror proves more frightening than any film featuring a masked killer or a creature from another world, but it's not about murders or scary monsters, except, of course, those that man brings on himself and those that reside deep within his very essence. Requiem for a Dream plays like a living nightmare, a never-ending descent into self-imposed hellacious prisons with no bars, no guards, and no sentences, a place where addicts go on their own accord and live in agony in hopes of somehow, someway, finding answers in the pleasure that becomes pain that becomes death -- emotionally at first and, eventually, physically -- in what seems like the blink of an eye. Beginning innocently enough, that "one hit" to calm the nerves or those pills that promise to instantly drop those pesky 20 pounds that just can't be gone soon enough lead to maddening obsessions that can't be shaken, that tear down lives, that wear down the body, and that shred the soul.
Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto, Lord of War) and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans, Little Man) have pawned off Harry's mother's (Ellen Burstyn, The Fountain) best friend, her television set, for $20 to get high. It's a recurring transaction, with them taking the set from the frightened Mrs. Goldfarb who has resorted to chaining the set to the radiator in hopes of breaking the cycle, but to no avail. After she re-purchases her set from the dealer for the umpteenth time, she watches nothing but a repeating infomercial and she one days receives a telephone call informing her that she's been selected to appear on television. On what show, on which date, and at what time matters not; she's ecstatic with the prospect and wishes to recapture her glory days by wearing a favorite red dress. Unfortunately, the dress doesn't quite fit, and when she fails at a grapefruit-and-eggs diet, she turns to prescription pills to magically melt the fat away. Meanwhile, Harry, Tyrone, and Harry's girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly, Dark City) make big plans for their lives but can't escape the allure of hard narcotics. As they shoot more and more dope into their veins and Mrs. Goldfarb pops more and more diet pills, this tragic quartet begin a rapid descent into nothingness as their vices -- well-intentioned or otherwise -- get the best of them and lead them to unimaginably horrific fates.
Even in its opening minutes where life still takes on a hint of normalcy, there's still conflict to be found. Requiem for a Dream immediately pulls its audience in with a discomforting setup that sees a mother terrified of her son, treating him like a criminal and locking herself away from him, hinting that there may be more to their relationship than the constant back-and-forth charade with the television set. Conflict plays as a central theme throughout the film, and not necessarily conflict between characters. Obviously, there's plenty of that as lives spiral out of control and relationships fall by the wayside in favor of satiating that craving for what it is that's tearing them down in the first place. The primary conflict in the film comes from within each character; they struggle to find answers but generally fail to look anywhere but further into the abyss that has them swiftly falling deeper into a cesspool of self-loathing; physical pain; mental anguish; and sorrow for the past, lament of the present, and a hopeless outlook towards the future. It's chilling stuff, the fall not from grace but from normalcy in the name of the simplest things, best displayed by Sara's seemingly harmless desire to fit into an old dress. While she doesn't sell her body for drugs, get caught up with the wrong people for that next high, or attempt to fool herself into believing that she has control of her actions, her obsession nevertheless leads her down a dark road that she unwittingly travels but cannot exit. Requiem for a Dream focuses on drugs, and while it may be seen as an anti-drug movie, its true strength lies in its universal message that speaks against any sort of unhealthy habit, lifestyle, or addiction that can in an instant become something that can potentially devastate a life.
Even the title -- Requiem for a Dream -- suggests the absence of hope, the death of a future, the forsaking of a chance at redemption. Everything in the film comes with a price, that price being the aforementioned hope, future, and redemption. With every pill, with every high, with every submission to amoral activity in the name of the next hit, the characters take one more step towards sealing an inevitable fate that isn't hard to see but is scoffed at, unchallenged, or otherwise ignored even in the face of painfully obvious signs. Director Darren Aronofsky, best known for 2008's The Wrestler, creates a highly stylized world that visually captures the themes of despair, distrust, selfishness, and suffering that populate the film. Deliberately slow and meandering in its depiction of life without the high and hyperkinetic in its visions of the fleeting world of the rush of the latest hit, Requiem for a Dream offers slick editing and an eye for the surreal that immensely aids in capturing the ups and downs of an addict's life. Using rapid edits, extreme close-ups, shaky handheld cameras, and other tools to assemble the parallel worlds, Aranofsky never leaves any doubt as to either the effects of the addiction or the pace at which it leads its victims down a road thy can't very well escape. Requiem for a Dream paints its characters as selfish and hypocritical and often visually reinforces the divide between them, even when they speak otherwise. A scene featuring Harry and Marion lying in bed one beside the other, touching and speaking of how they love one another is displayed in a split screen, despite the characters inches-wide physical separation. Recalling the troubling first scene between Harry and his mother, it symbolizes a chasm, a rift, a deception; soft words and a tender touch mask the deeper love, that of the substance, the high, and the effort to obtain it. They're but pawns in one another's lives, a hollow relationship that's held together by a mutual desire not for one another but for that which will eventually tear them apart both emotionally and physically.
Requiem for a Dream's finest asset comes in the superb acting that is to be found in every frame. The film's quartet of primaries sparkle and play their parts with a disturbing reality that captures the very essence of insanity. Of course, the film is highlighted by veteran actress Ellen Burstyn, her effort here garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Her uncanny ability to play the part with a wide range of emotion -- afraid of her son, giddy at the prospect of appearing on television, concerned over fitting into an old dress, distress at the prospect of a diet that asks her to survive on grapefruit and eggs, and her slow decent into hell as she deliberately overdoses on prescription diet pills in hopes of more quickly losing weight -- makes for a fascinating study into the human psyche. Unlike some of the other characters, she seems at least partially aware of her deteriorating situation. She lies to her son about her condition when it is revealed to him that she's on "uppers," and a panicked visit to her diet doctor -- a doctor that never once looks her in the eye -- sees her telling him of her failing health, but her observation is met with a nonchalant dismissal. Her character's story is the most tragic in the film; it begins with the best of intentions but falls terribly off course due in part to her own actions but also due to the inactions of her doctor and her friends' failure to intervene, her downfall not the easiest to see coming but certainly the most devastating by film's end. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly turn in top-notch efforts, too, but Marlon Wayans just may be the surprise of the show, delivers a deep and reflective effort as he recalls his more innocent days as a child and, perhaps more so than Harry or Marion, his character seems to realize the trap he's in but cannot find an effective means of escape. By extension, it seems appropriate that of all the characters, his situation at film's end appears the most promising despite the harsh conditions and treatment he faces.
Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray, Video Quality
Requiem for a Dream delivers a quality 1080p transfer framed inside a 1.85:1 window. The image appears slightly overblown in several scenes, with an unnatural sense of brightness to it that nevertheless seems to reflect the intended look of the film suitably well. Detail appears as above average but not absolutely striking; objects scattered about Mrs. Goldfarb's apartment, for instance, appear sharp and finely rendered both in the foreground in the more distant background areas as well. The most impressive details stem from the many extreme close-up shots in the film. Aronofsky often zooms in tight on skin, eyes, and lips, and the fine details -- particularly in chapped, dehydrated lips as seen later in the film -- offer startling clarity. Colors are finely rendered but don't pop off the screen, appearing as slightly washed out from time to time but never looking too terribly dull. There's minimal visible grain but there's little in the way of distracting artifacts. This Blu-ray release of Requiem for a Dream offers up a solid transfer but one that's not visually spectacular.
Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Requiem for a Dream arrives on Blu-ray with a powerful DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless soundtrack. The music as heard over the opening credits plays through every one of the speakers in the 7.1 configuration, a trend that holds through the course of the picture. The musical presentation enjoys excellent clarity and precision across the entire dynamic range; Clint Mansell's now-iconic score has never sounded better. The harsh strings that punctuate the madness and depravity of the film are duplicated here wonderfully. There are plenty of unnerving sound effects throughout, for instance those that accompany the drug preparation scenes or several hallucinations, including one revolving around a refrigerator with a mind of its own as heard in chapter 13. Bass isn't prevalent throughout, but when it arrives, it makes its presence felt. Other assorted sound effects, many far more subtle, permeate the soundstage as well. Whether visions of cupcakes and donuts flying around the soundstage or the gentle sounds of the Atlantic's rolling waves, the track handles a broad range of effects superbly. Dialogue delivery never falters, and even Keith David's booming voice is handled well. Requiem for a Dream relies heavily on its soundtrack to compliment the tone of the film, and this DTS-HD MA 7.1 offering is up to the task.
Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Requiem for a Dream comes to Blu-ray with a healthy dosage of supplements. First up are two filmmaker commentaries, beginning with a track featuring Director Darren Aronofsky. Recorded almost nine years ago, the director speaks on the difficulty of making the film, recounting his fascination with the book, stylistic choices that shaped the tone of the picture, the score, the acting, and much more. This is a fine track that makes for a solid compliment to the film. The second track features Director of Photography Matthew Libatique. Obviously, this track isn't as balanced as the director offering, focusing primarily on the technical nitty-gritty behind the creation of the film's look and shooting style. It comes recommended to budding filmmakers and cinematographers. The Making of 'Requiem for a Dream' (480p, 35:23) is a solid behind-the-scenes piece that offers raw footage from the set that covers a wide array of topics, including shooting techniques, makeup application, and more, all complimented by commentary from the director recorded after the fact. Memories, Dreams, & Addictions: Ellen Burstyn Interviews Hubert Selby, Jr. (480p, 19:56) is a piece that features the Oscar-winning actress asking questions of the author of the novel Requiem for a Dream. Also included is a collection of nine deleted scenes with optional director commentary, the film's teaser (480p, 1:36) and theatrical (480p, 1:37) trailers, and two TV spots (480p, 0:17 & 0:32).
Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It can be effectively argued that Requiem for a Dream works too well, is too effective, and by extension, is nearly impossible to watch. Certainly there's no emotional appeal here; the film is a downer in every sense of the word as it grates on the audience that cannot help but take the fall with each character as their lives go from oddly fascinating to downright repulsive in what seems like the blink of an eye or, in this case, the popping of a pill or the prick of a needle. Nevertheless, Requiem for a Dream is required viewing for most any audience of an appropriate age and maturity level that can take the film to heart and understand exactly what it's putting on display. It's the cinematic equivalent of touching a hot stove; it's worth experiencing for the life lesson and is something that will in some way stay with each and every viewer that dares absorb what it has to offer. Not a movie for the timid but exactly the sort of film that needs to be seen, Requiem for a Dream is the stuff of nightmares, but better to see it on-screen and in a safe environment than to learn its lessons the hard way. Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of this disturbing modern classic impresses. Featuring a sound 1080p transfer, a somewhat better lossless soundtrack, and a solid array of bonus materials, Requiem for a Dream comes highly recommended despite its limited replay value.
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Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Requiem for a Dream Blu-ray - September 6, 2011
Independent British distributors Momentum Pictures will release on Blu-ray Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000), Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Ellen Burstyn. Exact technical specs and region coding status for this release are unknown at the moment, ...
• Amazon Blu-ray Sale: Requiem for a Dream (Expired) - June 16, 2011
For a limited time, Amazon is offering Requiem for a Dream on Blu-ray for 70% off its SRP. Director Darren Aronofsky's graphically realistic look at the perils of drug addiction, Requiem for a Dream stars Jared Leto (Fight Club), Jennifer Connelly (Hulk), Marlon ...
• BD Sales Information: September 7-13 (Update) - September 18, 2009
The Jason Statham actioner 'Crank 2: High Voltage' was far and away the top-selling title on Blu-ray during the week ended September 13, according to Nielsen VideoScan. The sales leader of the previous week, 'Gladiator', was number two, while the number one in ...
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