(Warning: There are spoilers.)
Tonight I watched Requiem for a Dream. It's a movie I've wanted to watch for a long time and when I first slipped the disc inside my computer, I thought there had been a mistake. Because what I was seeing looked like an ad for some kind of show- the Tappy Tibbons show. I honestly looked at it and thought that maybe the DVD had been hacked, that there was some kind of virus on the disc and I was going to get it.
It was so real- and that's when I realized that was all on purpose to get you into the spirit of the movie. This has to be the sickest, most disturbing, most frightening movie I have ever watched. There were parts of this where I just couldn't watch or literally felt sick. And there were parts of this where I almost wanted to cry but felt this very strange detachment- because it was so otherworldly, there was so much here that I couldn't understand or connect to at the same time that it frightened and disturbed me.
Requiem for a Dream tells the story of four people who spiral into the hellish world of addiction. The movie is scary because it presents the good and the bad- it shows the people on their good days, when they have the drugs they need, when everything in the world is so utterly beautiful and they're on a high and everything is going to be fine. And then it shows them as they spiral into dependancy and how their lives are completely destroyed because of what they feel they have to do.
One of the most moving parts of the entire film is where Harry tries to justify having his girlfriend Marion prostitute herself in order to get money out of someone- money he'll use to get himself and Tyrone back on track, to get themselves back in the business. She looks up at him and says very quietly, "Getting the money isn't the problem- I just don't know what I'll have to do to get it." And he is helpless but tries to justify his actions and that's when your heart just breaks because you completely understand it at the same time that you don't want to.
Then there's the utterly horrifying story of Harry's mother, Mrs. Goldfarb, and how she wants to lose weight. So she goes to this doctor who gives her "weight-loss" pills but they're not weight-loss pills, obviously- or rather, the weight loss is a side effect. She goes on these drugs and they help her lose weight but at the same time they completely wreck her mind and there's one incredibly vivid scene where she's on a bad trip and it's completely sick- the refrigerator starts out at her and her former self walks out of the television screen and starts criticizing her existence and stating that her life is utterly worthless. The lights flash on and off and she is surrounded by glittering young people who all shout at her and tell her to "Feed me." There's this ghastly scene where she's garishly made up, eyeliner smeared and this horrible red lipstick almost like a bruise painted onto her mouth. You look at her and you feel this mixture of horror and pity because you understand why this happened but at the same time it sickens you.
She goes mad. She runs out and she takes the train and she's babbling about how she's going to be on television but her hair is ugly and dyed a strange red with the roots showing and she seems completely crazy; she sobs and rants and she looks scary, but we know better because we know what's going on. But you see out of her point of view and how when she is taken to the hospital she sees it as a form of torture- when she's pinned down by restraints and force-fed and even apparently has electric shock therapy- it's the sickest and most horrifying thing. She has these horrible deep black bags under her eyes.
There's a point where her son, Harry, the amateur drug dealer, realizes that the pills she's on are bad for her and tries to talk her out of using them- this is still when she's relatively normal, though, she's only clacking her teeth together, which is how he identifies that she's on drugs. And she explains that she has nothing and she likes the way the pills make her feel and he can't argue with her but it makes him so unhappy and he's in the cab on the way home and he starts crying and you realize that he knows that this is wrong and this is bad, he just feels like he can't fight it and there's nothing he can do.
Marion might be the saddest, though. She's a beautiful, beautiful girl who loves Harry but whose addiction controls her-even when she says that she's not "hooked on it" or anything. She's hooked to the point where she prostitutes herself to get drugs and participates in this truly degrading show alongside other naked women before all these men where they're all urging her to "Cum! Cum! Cum! Cum!" and then you watch her curl up on her sofa holding this little pouch and smiling to herself and that makes you feel so sick, so disturbed. Because you watch how it hurts her to do what she does but at the same time she "needs her fix" and this is how she gets it and there's that smile, that smile when she curls up on the sofa...
Harry ends up losing his arm because he shoots up in the arm and the site of the injection ends up getting completely infected. So he's moaning in pain but he doesn't take care of it until it's too late- at which point he's put in jail- and he can't be treated, really; his arm is amputated. So you see him there as he wakes up in the hospital bed and wonders how he got to this point, one arm completely in a cast and he's crying. And you see how he's a good guy even when he does these things that only a complete scumbag would do, because you see how he fights himself and feels bad about what he has done, and when he leaves his girlfriend he leaves her with the phonenumber of the guy who won't sell drugs but who gives them to girls so long as they sleep with him. Which is done partly out of anger but partly because he doesn't want to hurt her.
It's the soundtrack that makes this movie. This is the most compelling, disturbing, beautiful soundtrack and it underscores and emphasizes the disturbing, horrifying parts- it intensifies- or is very sad and very beautiful.
It's definitely one of the most fascinating movies I've ever seen, and probably one of the most necessary. Because it allows you a completely different viewpoint into a world that I have never entered and would automatically shy away from and what it allows me to see is at least one way of looking at the people, the junkies- to see them as victims. Whether or not that's always true is arguable but it's very true in this movie; obviously it is their choices that initially control them but then they are truly addicted and it's the drug that controls them, that makes them into people they don't want to be, that hurts them and causes them so much pain.
It's the most disturbed and twisted world, but at the same time you see why it's initially compelling and alluring, how it makes them feel and helps them. You understand it. And maybe that's the scariest part...to understand that. Because you do. You're not a judgemental outsider who rationally decides they should never have taken drugs in the first place. You're them. You're living their lives, lives where they want their hope or meaning or something to get up for in the morning, and you see what they do. And you see that they don't realize the price they're paying or the toll it's taking on them, but then suddenly it's so much, it's so large, and they don't understand how they got to this point but you do, oh, you do. And it makes you feel sick.
And the music- it's really this beautiful, meaningful music. It's very dark and very sad but it also has this very haunting beautiful quality...it's the decay of a beautiful self, where there's a part of the person that still ethereal and pure and good but another part that's so dark and hurt.
Such a thought-provoking movie. Insidious decay of the beautiful, that is what it is. You don't see it at first but then there it is and you've lost everything you ever wanted to keep. And you've given up whatever was good in you. You hate yourself but love and need the drug and that is what keeps you going even though it poisons you.