I’m usually pretty skeptical when it comes down to conventional Hollywood films. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, I just get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. There’s a beginning, rising action, climax, falling action, and then the big happy resolution – AKA the typical Hollywood ending. In this respect, that’s why I like to watch films that transgress conventions and challenge my expectations, so it doesn’t feel like I’m watching the same thing on repeat. One thing that I look for in watching a film is how well the film can artistically inform me about the world we live – no matter how bad the content may be.
So, for this post I want to talk about my all-time favorite film: Requiem for a Dream (2000). This film is certainly not for the faint-hearted, so if you haven’t watched it before, watch this trailer before jumping in head first.
One of the main reasons why I like this film is because it shows us a world that is taboo. A world that contains drug addiction, poverty, and inevitable demise. You may be thinking “well that sounds awful”, but the truth is too many films make us forget about major issues that surround us and they perpetuate living life with a narrow-minded view of the world. I like films that tell me something about the world we live in and boy, does this one put the cherry on the cake.
This film explores drug addiction and mental illness with a harsh, critical, yet authentic lens (I also acknowledge not every drug addict is like the characters in this film). The editing, mise-en-scene and cinematography is so well executed and so eerie, the film could be an anti-drug PSA in its own right. But, that is what makes this film important. Not only is it cinematically brilliant, it also transgresses conventions and does not end like a normal film would, which yes, leaves audiences depressed but most significantly it leaves them informed.