Sunday, December 7, 2008

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (Darren Aronofsky, 2000, USA) Harry is attuned to the song of the dead, its cold sharp trill a spike in his vein and the immediate euphoric high, gravity all nonsense now, his dreams a bitter crushing downfall. But the drug addiction is only the symptom of his dis-ease, a compound component of his emotional confusion, his young life already separated and detached from his spiritual center, drifting away in an apathetic and tumultuous egocentric journey, devoured by the abyss. Director Darren Aronofsky films in quick-cuts and split-screens, a drug-addled point-of-view which leads us to perceive and experience their fractured reality. This doesn’t create intimacy with the characters but pushes the viewer away to gain perspective. In one poignant scene Harry and Marion lay together in bed, separated by a split-screen that represents the metaphorical distance between these two lovers: they may be physically close but they shall never be together as one. The score lurks insidiously throughout the narrative; the gentle strings rise ominously towards apocalyptical revelations, and then shares its secrets in tremolo whispers. The music is by the Kronos Quartet and is one of my favorite modern soundtracks. Its addition to the film is wonderfully realized and is inseparable from the drama. Sara is attuned the song of the airwaves, this manufactured and reprocessed world transmitted into her tiny apartment, a vicarious existence that represses her broken dreams and unresolved psychological issues. Her addiction to diet pills contrasts her son Harry’s addiction to heroine; they both end in the rock-bottom spiral of self-destruction. As Sara and Harry spin out of control, Aronofsky’s rapid-fire flash cuts quickly to the bone to represent their desperation and impending doom. Each character suffers alone and stuck in the moment of the immediate fix, unable to look towards the future because they have none; they have been remade as an addict, a simulacra that looks human but has need of only one true love: drugs. Harry imagines a bright blue sky mirrored in the gentle surf, he walks to the edge of a peer to hold Marion…but she’s lost in the ether. Forever. (B+)

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