The film is at times incredibly hard to watch (double-ended dildo, anyone?) but when you do it’s nothing short of a cinematic goldmine, with director Darren Aronofsky’s editing and Clint Mansell’s spot-on score fitting the addiction-addled characters lives perfectly. Fish-eye lenses, split-screen, sped-up/slow-down footage and cameras strapped to actors focussed on their faces as they flee from the mess they’re in are all used perfectly. Compare this to Happy Together, where these same devices were used just for the sake of it, to show the director could, and you can really see how relevant they are here. Also, compare the editing, especially that of drug hits; rapid shots of syringes depressing and eyes dilating, with similar edits in Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. The two use very similar techniques, but with wildly different effects.
I felt the three youngsters should have been scrawnier and more blemished than they were, with Wayans and Leto especially being far too muscular than I’d expected a junkie to be. The storytelling though is excellent, with actions truly speaking louder than words, most shots consisting of close-ups or POV.
I had a couple of “Hey, it’s him” moments: Crash’s Keith David is a lecherous ‘party’ host, Spiderman’s Dylan Baker a Southern doctor and Office Space’s Ajay Naidu is Sara’s mailman. Also, Christopher McDonald needs some recognition for playing almost the same sleazy TV scumbag he played in Quiz Show.
Choose film 9/10