Requiem for a Dream

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There are very few films out there that can be compared the humourous delights of Hot Fuzz, Airplane! and Schindler's List, but Requiem for a Dream is one of them.

The last film of celebrated comedian Akira 'Aronofsky' Kurosawa, it stars Dame Ellen Burstyn, an ex-Music Hall celebrity who appeared in Duck Soup with Groucho Marx; Jennifer Connelly, illegitimate daughter of Billy Connolly; Jared Leto, the former Miss Italy 2005, and Marlon Wayans, the actor who won an Academy Award for his moving portrayl of Hitler in Downfall.

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The narrative opens with Leto's Harry stealing a television from his mother (Burstyn) with a little help from his friend Dave (Wayans) and his brothers (Shannon and Jessica Leto) in order to pay for his next hit - A Beautiful Lie by 30 Seconds to Mars. However, due to a gas leak in the flat, the four men become increasingly disorientated as can be seen through the jumbled use of camera work and split vision. The protagonsts are literally seeing double but from different directions! This craziness continues through the credits as the lads, now dressed inexpilcably in Harry's mother's clothes, head off to sell the television, unaware that they're just about to land themselves in a whole heap of trouble!

Meanwhile, mourning the loss of her beloved antique TV set, Harry's mother, Mrs Totoro(reportedly named after Kurosawa's late wife), is driven to an all night binge of amphetamines. It's during this that some seriously surreal set-pieces kick off. The most hilarious of these is when the fridge comes to life and rips away from the wall, chasing Mrs Totoro around the room accompanied by Benny Hill music. The darkly humoured result is that Mrs Totoro ends up in a psychiatric ward with hair like a wired Helena Bonham Carter, jibbering madly, mirroring the upbeat ending of rom-com From Hell.

On the other side of town, Harry and Dave, having lost Harry's brothers, bump into Harry's bit of posh totty Marion. Marion is currently on the run from ex-boyfriend and pimp Robin from the Hood. She joins the two men on their quest to sell the TV, providing she can get a cut - with baking soda obviously! Post selling the TV, the three friends hunt down their local dealer to get in on the lastest batch of their latest fancy. French fancies. However, their plan comes undone when a complete stranger (Ian McKellen) instigates a gun fight with ACTUAL GUNS! Harry, a little disorientated, stumbles home with the help of Dylan Moran and relates the wacky situation to Marion who replies kindly with a rolling pin and tells him to drive his pale-ass to Hawaii.

Whilst the boys are off playing cake-runners, Marion takes a flight of French fancy and visits her ex Robin to borrow some sugar. However she comes a cropper when he wants something in return and she's forced into random acts of lesbianism and cake-decorating! In her sheer outrage she screams repeatedly with her head under the water of her bath, reminscent of the car horn gag in Little Miss Sunshine.

Harry and Dave are having a whale of a time following their out-of-this-world roadtrip to Hawaii, accompanied by the likes of gambling-addicted eccentric millionaire John Cleese and his toga-wearing frat-boy son (a recently resurrected John Belusci). When they arrive, Harry suffers from a seizure, brought on by excessive watching of anime Evangelion and has to be taken to hospital by Dave. They are immediately thrown in jail and their fancies are confiscated. It is then that they realise they have contracted fancy finger and the worse-off Harry has to be amputated from the shoulder down so he's literally 'armless!

edit Reception

Requiem for a Dream is a brilliant laugh-a-minute film. The set-pieces are just incredible for the budget. How on earth they got that elephant in there just beggars belief! There's more intertextual references and parodies jammed into this film than Spaced so it's good to keep your eyes and ears open, boy, because there's always something else to see on the second time around. Kind of like a Zucker film but with a touch of Yellow Submarine thrown in!

What really makes this film is the quality of the acting. Burstyn is always right on the mark, her comic timing is perfect - just catch those glimpses in her paranoid eyes as that fridge starts to shuffle. Then there's Connelly with all the charisma of a beansprout and more dead pan than a dead... pan. She's like the new Leslie Nielson. Added to that you've got the standard but lovably cliched buddy-act of Leto and Wayans. Wayans, in his usual role, plays the straight man, though he's still able to derive some laughs from the surreal situations, most notably when he repeatedly bumps into the camera whilst being chased by the cops and ends up, in typical post-modern style, pushing the camera along in front of him. Leto, relatively new to acting, is a joy to watch. It's very rare that an American film will cast a dubiously gendered, ethnically ambiguous, sugar-hyped, emo pixie as its lead - at least, not since the last Zelda.

edit Did you know?

  • It was filmed on a budget of $780USD and at least seventy Walmart coupons for Heinz soup.
  • For the film, Jared Leto's eyes were super-imposed images of the planet Neptune.
  • Wayans lost 50 pounds to get the part of Dave. He lost the 50 pounds whilst on a brief trip to England filming for You, All Of My Brothers Gather Around In My Hood with Mark Addy.
  • Driving to Hawaii is actually possible and was researched in depth by Viggo Mortensen for his role in this film as 'Passionate Mechanic'. He was not credited.
  • Edgar Wright is a big fan, as is Quentin Tarantino.
  • Rated #3 in Greatest Comedy Films of All Time by Channel 4 behind Vietnam satire Bullet in the Head and Cornish cult comedy Straw Dogs.
  • 'Requiem' is Latin for 'crap film starring Lucy Liu and Christina Slater'.
  • Inspired the insane laughfest Battle Royale.
  • Aronofsky Kurosawa took the inspiration for this film from his previous direction in the Night Watch. It is believed that, if you look closely, there are several vampires flitting across the background at random points.
  • Contrary to popular belief, yes, that is a real elephant. Stephen Fry claimed to be the first to have spotted it, but apparantly Oscar Wilde pipped him to the achievement and was awarded a lifetime supply of French fancies. See also: Jared Leto
  • In the famous orgy scene, the actor who utters the line, "Ass-to-ass!" is Fox News star Bill O'Reilly.
  • Uwe Boll hates this film, but what does he know, he directed Alone in the Dark
  • David Lynch was originally going to direct it, but claimed it was too funny to film. Passing it was his his greatest regret.

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