The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday January 29th

`Requiem' Sickens But Fails to Engage Viewer

There is a bleak, grim film out there called "Requiem for a Dream" with plenty of visual effects, but little emotion.

Director Darren Aronofsky ("Pi") has ostensibly made a film about heroin addicts, but the real story lies in the destructive power of society-approved addictions like television and prescription pills.

Harry (Jared Leto) is a heroin junkie who pawns his mother's television for drug money on a weekly basis. Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is Harry's addict girlfriend who will debase herself for a fix when times are tough. Tyrone C. Love, the friend-with-connections, played with serious depth by Marlon Wayans, adds a dynamic character to the trio.

The story follows Harry, Tyrone and Marion as they go after their dreams of making it big by selling heroin and opening their own legitimate business. Their fortunes follow the seasons, and as soon as winter comes, everything goes to hell for them.

Strong acting and some eye-catching editing effects nearly make up for a lackluster story. There are fast-forward, slow motion, hallucination and split-screen effects that show the whir and grind of drug-addled brains and add a music-video feel to the film. The shooting up sequences show smart, creative editing, but leave little to the imagination.

The trio of heroin addicts is hopeless from the start and of little interest; the jewel of the story is Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Harry's mother, and her unwitting fall into addiction.

At first, Sara's only addiction is a silly game-show infomercial that preaches self-improvement, but when she develops a false hope of being on television she starts an intense diet to fit into her favorite red dress. The only way for her to lose weight is to pop prescription diet pills that are little more than speed. As Sara sinks into insanity, Burstyn's increasingly chilling performance becomes the film's greatest strength.

The story is sickening and sad, but the film fails to engage the viewer emotionally. Empathy - or even sympathy - is never felt for the characters. What results is only disgust and a sense of detachment from their plight. Aronofsky doesn't pull in the viewers on any emotional level higher than revulsion.

All the addicts, young and old, are desperate and sad, but it all seems faraway and uninvolved for the viewer. This film leaves you cold.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.


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