This moment, captured in minute 13 of the film, is from the “Summer” section and follows one of the few moments of bourgeois respectability in this dark corkscrew of a story.
Harry and Marion have just spent a romantic interlude up on the roof of an office building where they are able to look out over the whole neighbourhood of Coney Island and the beach. He encourages her to pursue her dream of designing clothes and becoming independent of her parents. He says he’ll help her.
Coming back in through the fire escape door, Marion recklessly sets off the alarm that Harry had disconnected and with a mischievous grin pulls him toward the elevators. They hide as the security guards respond to the alarm, and on the trip down, they make out like horny teenagers for the security camera. She is the aggressor.
The next time we see the couple, they’re locked in an embrace on the sofa, asleep, sweaty and almost certainly high.
There is love here, certainly. But there is also something else, something more sinister. Although Marion at first appears to be the more innocent of the two, something about her recklessness in this scene hints at the darkness to come.
The innocence and freedom of the rooftop, where the lovers fly paper airplanes and talk like shy schoolchildren, where Harry puts his arm around Marion and kisses her on the cheek, gives way to the confined space of the elevator, where animal lust takes over and we spy on them through a security camera, a device intended to identify transgressors, trespassers and lawbreakers.
There follow a few more scenes of innocence, of what might have looked like pure love between Harry and Marion if we hadn’t already seen a darker side, but the worm is already in the bud.
This essay is a contribution to the Requiem // 102 project, conceived by Nick Rombes, Associate Professor of English at the University of Detroit, Mercy, as a form of “collective, distributed film criticism.” Requiem // 102 is modeled loosely on Rombes’ ongoing 10/40/70 project, in which he “reads” three screen captures from a given film taken at the 10, 40, and 70 minute marks.
For this project, Nick has invited 102 contributors from across the film criticism spectrum to look at, or otherwise be inspired by, one frame from each minute of Darren Aronofsky’s 102 minute-long film Requiem for a Dream (2000), a movie that unsettled many audience members when it was first released in cinemas ten years ago.