Although it's definitely not for the squeamish, Requiem for a Dream can be recommended as the most imaginative film released so far this year.Director Darren Aronofsky collaborated with Hubert Selby Jr (who wrote the novel of the same name) on the screenplay. It's a descent into hell for four characters whose downfall is addiction - basically a "just say no" story about how drug addiction kills your dreams and ruins your life. Aronofsky adopts a myriad of techniques - including split screen, jump cuts and sped-up footage - to illustrate his thesis, simultaneously pre-empting the dullness of the average drug movie. Contributing greatly to the innovative look and feel of the film is the work of cinematographer Matthew Libatique and editor Jay Rabinowitz.
Jared Leto plays the pivotal role of New Yorker Harry Goldfarb; Jennifer Connelly as his girlfriend, Marlon Wayans as his best friend and Ellen Burstyn as his mother complete the ensemble. Burstyn's role is the least expected - a widow and TV addict, who gets hooked on "diet pills" (amphetamines). Burstyn's performance is very much of the "look at me - I'm acting!" school, and comes complete with badly dyed hair, strained accent and prop glasses. But her tragic Sara Goldfarb makes a nice contrast to the more subdued younger characters.
In his final act, these characters suffer fates worse than death. Aronofsky miscalculates by making this "winter" sequence (the film takes place in summer, autumn and winter - tellingly, there's no optimistic "spring" segment) so overwhelmingly bleak that it becomes grotesque, and finally topples over the edge into silliness.But there's no denying that this story is powerfully told. Requiem for a Dream is also propelled by a haunting, pulsing score performed by the Kronos Quartet.