A Farewell to Arm
C. CRADDOCK | Bakersfield | 09/16/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) loves to watch her TV, and she loves her son Harold (Jared Leto). The trouble is, Harry's a junkie; whenever he's jonesing for junk he and his partner Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans) take Sara's TV to Coney Island and pawn it. All the yentas (Louise Lasser, et al) on Sara's block know that Harry steals her TV, but Sara won't turn him in. Even the pawn broker, Mr. Rabinowitz (Mark Margolis), wonders why she lets him get away with it time after time.
Once she gets her TV back she'll most likely be watching an infomercial by Tappy Tibbons (Chris McDonald). It seems like he's always on. Like a poor man's Tony Robbins he whips the crowd into a frenzy--and there are prizes. He claims his regimen will change your life. All you have to do is stay on it for 30 "Days of Fury." He sells motivational DVDs. Sara Goldfarb is happy just to watch it on TV, but then she gets a phone call that says they want her to be on the show.
Sara Goldfarb: Harold, I'm gonna be on Television.
She gets carried away by the idea of being on TV. It is kind of ironic to have Ellen Burstyn playing this role, because she is a veteran actress from the Golden Age of Television. She's been on TV a lot. Burstyn has had 5 Oscar nominations and won the lead actress Oscar for Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Sara Goldfarb, on the other hand, has never been on TV. Sara Goldfarb gets so taken by the very idea of being on television that she goes on a diet so she can fit into her red dress. An unscrupulous doctor prescribes pills that get her hooked, just like her son, Harry--but with the extreme side effect of psychosis and paranoia.
Sara Goldfarb: And you should see my Harry on Television. We're giving the prizes away. I JUST WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW.
Requiem for a Dream is mainly about Sara and Harry Goldfarb, Harry's friend Tyrone C. Love, and Harry's girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly). Gold, Silver, and Love. At first they all have gleaming bright dreams, but everything goes dark.
This film is based upon a book by Hubert Selby Jr.. He also wrote Last Exit to Brooklyn, and that was made into a film years ago. Selby has had a hard life and his writing is very dark. Very, very dark. There are a couple of conversations with him in the bonus material on the DVD. Selby didn't use any apostrophes in Last Exit to Brooklyn. He would write "dont" instead of "don't." I thought that it was kind of an affectation, but nevertheless, his writing holds a dark power. However, no matter how dark it gets, there is always compassion for the characters. Though Harry has pawned his mom's TV so many times they've lost count, once he gets ahead, he buys her a new TV.
Sara Goldfarb: I love you, Harry.
Harry Goldfarb: I love you too, Mom.
But this is a Hubert Selby Jr. story, so you know the good times won't last for long.
The Bottom Line is that Director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, The Fountain, The Wrestler) was true to the spirit of Hubert Selby Jr.'s book, and the performances by Burstyn, Leto, Connelly, and Wayans, as well as the other cast members, were excellent. Aronofsky shows the exhilaration, but isn't stingy showing the high price they will pay. For that reason the last half of the movie grows increasingly grim, and it may be disturbing. I recommend it with caution.
Pi (1998) Written & Directed by Darren Aronofsky; Mark Margolis was Sol Robeson; Sean Gullette was Maximillian Cohen; Ben Shenkman was Lenny Meyer
Last Exit to Brooklyn (Import, All Regions) (1989) (book by Hubert Selby Jr.) Hubert Selby Jr. was Car Driver
How to Make an American Quilt (Ws) (1995) Ellen Burstyn was Hy Dodd; Jared Leto was Beck
Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) Ellen Burstyn was Alice Hyatt
Fight Club (1999) Jared Leto was Angel Face
Labyrinth (1986) Jennifer Connelly was Sarah
White Chicks (Unrated and Uncut Edition) (2004) Marlon Wayans was Marcus Copeland
Thelma & Louise (1991) Christopher McDonald was Darryl
Reality Bites (1994) Keith David was Roger
The Opening of Misty Beethoven DVD Constance Money Unrated 1976 (1976) (uncredited) Mark Margolis was Unhappy Guy on Plane
Big Tim: I know it's pretty baby, but I didn't take it out for air.