22. Requiem for a Dream: Sara’s Friends
I almost feel like pointing out how hard this film is to watch has been done to death and yet I couldn’t bring myself to ignore it because come on! If you have seen the film from beginning to end, is it possible to come to this conclusion without feeling a bit like you have been thrown into a washing machine on ‘spin’ setting and then had your head stomped on?
For any of you who live in a happy world of rainbow kittens and whiskery unicorns let me shit all over that with a synopsis of the film: ‘Requiem for a Dream’ is a horror show about 4 drug addicts who struggle to handle reality and as a result fall deeper and deeper into despair. Sorry did I say despair? I meant a world of decaying arms, fridges that come to life, going through withdrawals while in jail, double teaming a stranger for money and electroshock therapy.
How is your unicorn doing? Dead yet?
So here comes the final scene! Do we have hope for the future of our heroes? No of course not you idiot, what film have you been watching?
It was actually the moment where Sara’s friends see her that got me. Have you ever cared about someone a lot and then were told that they were not doing so well and suddenly you realise that totally makes sense and then you see them for the first time after realising they are not doing so well and…The look on their faces when they see what has happened to Sara is just so spot on. It strikes me right in the heart especially when it cuts to them sobbing outside.
All of the characters have their own devastating journey to the end when they go foetal on their respective beds but it is Sara’s that is the toughest to stomach from my perspective. As director Aronofsky stated when explaining why he took the job, it is one thing to tell the story of three heroin addicts but where does a prescription addict on a diet fit in to that picture we all have of a junky? All the smug self righteousness of ‘well that would never happen to me’ quiets the fuck down when confronted with Sara whose crash diet, doubling down on medication and singular goal to fit into a special dress for a TV appearance is incredibly relatable making her descent into psychosis and involuntary hospitalisation downright terrifying.
Ellen Burstyn somehow lost the Oscar to Julia Roberts that year Ugh. I know I shouldn’t care…Just ugh. Her performance here is like an angry wound (like Jared Leto’s arm at the end!) from her quivering cry for help about feeling lonely and old to the birds eye view of her horrific and violating experiences at the hospital…It never felt to me like a showy drug addict performance but a very real and raw depiction of a woman who believes that getting on TV will bring her son back to her. Actually it is more than that: She needs to believe that it will fix everything, including herself. God the performance even makes up for her work in the Wicker Man remake. Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous.
The music in the background of the final scene is so bombastic and over the top that when I have seen it used in other things I have been unable to take it seriously but how it is played here? It is a fitting underscore to the despair and surrender of 4 people for whom things are not about to get any better.
Tomorrow…A popstar cries…#21