Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. USA, 2000. Artisan Entertainment, Thousand Words, Sibling Productions, Protozoa Pictures, Industry Entertainment, Bandeira Entertainment, Requiem for a Dream, Truth and Soul Pictures. Screenplay by Hubert Selby Jr., Darren Aronofsky, based on the book by Hubert Selby Jr.. Cinematography by Matthew Libatique. Produced by Eric Watson, Palmer West. Music by Clint Mansell. Production Design by James Chinlund. Costume Design by Laura Jean Shannon. Film Editing by Jay Rabinowitz. Academy Awards 2000. Cannes Film Festival 2000. Golden Globe Awards 2000. Toronto International Film Festival 2000.
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.