Continuing Simon Augustine's countdown of the Most Disturbing Movies (Read Part 1 for the first 13). [<< #7]
6. Requiem For A Dream (2002) 9 (gross out)/8 (artistic merit)
Darren Aronofsky, the DIY auteur who burst onto the scene with the black and white religious-techno fable Pi, and more recently made the wrenching The Wrestler, may have reached a creative peak with this adaptation of a novel by one of the stars of the disturbing branch of the literary world: Hubert Selby, Jr., who also wrote the book Last Exit to Brooklyn. In perhaps the most jarring and skillfully unnerving chronicles of drug addiction ever made, we witness the destruction by heroin and prescription pills of a mother, her son, his girlfriend and best friend (Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, all top-notch).
Aronofsky uses all the tools of disorientation at his disposal to convey the kaleidoscopic and encompassing desperation and isolation of the drug addict (including an angry refrigerator, a frightening faux talk show, and a memorable score that has probably been re-used in more subsequent trailers than any other film in the last 25 years).
The scenes escalate until in the final 10 harrowing minutes, in which Connelly must take part in a sex party to feed her habit, hosted by a drug pusher who seems the devil incarnate (and gets the crowd to encourage her and another woman by chanting “ass to ass” like a satanic cult); Burstyn is reduced to a living zombie; and a doctor recoils from Leto's arm because it is so infected it must be removed, followed by the sight of a blood-splattering blade as it performs the amputation. Building suspense and demoralization with a relentless pace, Aronofsky manages to capture a very close approximation of what it looks like when people lose their souls before your very eyes.
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