Requiem For a Dream

Year: 2001
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans
To start with it looked like another up and coming arthouse director showpiece about nothing, full of groovy angles and snappy cinematic devices. But somewhere amid the stunning performances and often-told-of descent into despair, you realise it's pulled you in, and you can feel the slide downward all the characters find themselves in - by the time it's over you feel almost lucky to be alive.

Harry (Leto, looking so boyish - he grew ten years before appearing in Panic Room just two years later) and Tyrone (Wayans) are two junkies who decide to peddle to get themselves out of the dumps, and for a while it works. Harry's girlfriend (the ever-stunning Connelly) is a fashion designer with talent.

And his mother Sara (Burstyn, in a very daring role for her calibre, but one she lives up to and shines in) is a lonely widow who watches infomercials, dreaming of fitting into the red dress she wore to Harry's graduation. Things go from bad to worse for all four characters steadily and in little moves you hardly realise before the climax.

We leave each character at rock bottom, and the underlying message of the film isn't really that drugs will ruin your life, but that there's nothing more horrifying that that slide into desperation that they bring. Aronofsky portrays rock bottom with stark terror and vivid colour, never forgetting that everything - love, friendship, family - has been destroyed by drugs.

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