Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Rating: B-

Dir: Darren Aronofsky
Star: Jared Leto, Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans

Could this be Reefer Madness for the third millennium? In some ways, it might be, since its anti-drug theme is so strident that the idea eventually begins to exercise a contrary fascination. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly are the epitome of heroin chic, who descend into drug-hell along with friend Marlon Wayans. Leto ends up mostly ‘armless and Wayans in prison, while Connelly does double-ended dildos for drugs. So not all bad then, more callous readers may reckon (and I’d not be seen to disagree!).

You can’t deny the power of the message, or the effectively savage style with which it’s delivered, and the visual style is fabulously hallucinogenic – if you get the DVD, you may wonder what the hell you’ve bought, as it carries over to the menus therein. But with the exception of the diet-pill addicted mother (Ellen Burstyn, who is amazing), you get no insight into why they take drugs to start with. The result becomes an ever higher-pitched and shrieking polemic – unlike, say, Trainspotting, which acknowledged the powerful appeal of drugs before showing their darker side – that weakens the film irreparably. Solving the drug problem is gonna take more than shouting “No!” in your audience’s face for 100 minutes.