(out of 5)
Harrowing, uncompromising look at the world of drug addiction, Darren Aronofsky’s sophomore effort is a masterpiece of visual elegance and hard-edged style that surpasses his witty but self-conscious debut, Pi. Here the fast-paced cutting and frenetic energy do get wearing at times, but on the whole the psychotic carnival ride of images is so suited to the subject matter that it makes it all feel appropriate. Ellen Burstyn stars as a Long Island retiree whose life changes when she finds out from an anonymous phone call that she is going to be on a talk show. Feeling herself to be overweight, she starts taking dangerous diet pills that overtake her completely and send her down a terrifying spiral of addiction. Her son (Jared Leto) is himself a junkie who gets high with his equally hooked girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly). There’s no end to the trouble these three put themselves through to get the stuff they want, with Connelly an especially disturbing character who easily trades her body for the slightest chance of scoring. The film is completely off-putting to anyone with a weak stomach, but it is also compelling and admirable filmmaking with a terrific edge.
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Screenplay by Hubert Selby Jr., Darren Aronofsky, based on the book by Hubert Selby Jr.
Cinematography by Matthew Libatique
Music by Clint Mansell
Production Design by James Chinlund
Costume Design by Laura Jean Shannon
Film Editing by Jay Rabinowitz
Film Festivals: TIFF 2000
Cannes Film Festival: 2000
Academy Award Nomination
Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Burstyn as “Sara Goldfarb”)
Golden Globe Award Nomination
Best Performance By An Actress in a Motion Picture-Drama (Ellen Burstyn)