Wandering through some of those dark mental places, as is my basic lifestyle choice at the moment - I came upon the title of this film via a somewhat tenuous link at cracked.com:
Being rather intrigued, I was cheered to see that HMV are selling it on the cheap - http://www.hmv.co.uk/hmvweb/displayProduct...&sku=627126 - and thus my DVD was secured.
In short, if you want to be cheered up, watch something else. But if you want to watch one of the most beautifully constructed and almost unbearably bleak tales of human tragedy ever, (think hardcore Shakespearian, but a lot darker and more modern), this is most likely the film for you.
I like to think I'm fairly resistant to film's more upsetting places, but the final fifteen minutes of this film are almost certainly unlike anything you've ever seen before. It's not sensationalist, it's not grotesque, it's not gory, but it is some of the most distressingly brutal film making I've ever borne witness to - I just sat on the couch in respectful silence as the credits rolled, rather than scurrying off for a piss. (And I did actually need a piss as well.)
Definitely a 9/10 - and gets the highest Chopsticks recommendation.
HMV's rather good "in-house" review reads as follows:
There is no getting away from the fact the explicit nature of “Requiem For A Dream” makes for difficult viewing. This truly disturbing portrait of four lives being slowly destroyed by addiction was only Aronofsky's second feature film, yet it is highly accomplished film-making at its best. Using visual devices such as repetition and stop-frame footage may sound like a gimmick, but the director controls them so successfully that they become an essential and fully integrated part of the film's vocabulary. Superbly adapted from Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel, the plot is shockingly bleak and devoid of hope, yet extremely moving. The ensemble performances are exceptional throughout, yet special recognition must go to Burstyn for her remarkable and naturalistic turn as Sara - a woman who becomes a genuine victim of society's obsession with appearance. The inevitable degradation of the four central characters is evident from the outset, yet Aronofsky forces us watch as they slowly deteriorate.
The final half an hour is as distressing as film gets – there aren't many films with an ending as unhappy as this one. What is most remarkable is that Aronofsky manages to make a film with a central anti-drugs message that does not patronise or adhere to stereotypes. Not for the faint hearted, “Requiem For A Dream” is highly emotive, and highly recommended.