I knew from the moment I heard about this movie, I had to see it. Not exactly because I wanted to, but I had to. I like to subject myself to seemingly uncomfortable experiences to see how I react, since we all have the ability to surprise even ourselves. I’ve done that with almost every drug I’ve done. I would take them by myself, alone in my room, to see for myself what it was that had me hooked. Just as they are isolating, every drug begins sociably enough. To get drugs, you have to deal with at least one other person, and when you try it for the first time, there’s almost always someone there, a seasoned vet, who guides you through. I don’t think you can get to that point, as I did, without becoming yourself, fairly seasoned. For me it was cocaine.

I would get a 20 bag and lock myself up in my hotel room for the night, and snort line by line until it was all gone. Then I’d lay down on my bed and stare at the ceiling and witness whatever images began to play in my mind, noting the speed and repetition that comes with the passing of time once you have determined that, at least for the night, there will be no bump to maintain your high. You have done it all and you’re broke and you’re not going back out into the world tonight. This is where you can find all the torment and deliverance, within your own body and mind.

I’ve never done heroin, and I don’t ever plan to. But I can relate to some things. How it is that the whole world can be compressed so small that it can be focused on one thing, one object, one chemical, one price, and one reaction. The whole world could be falling apart and your cupboard bare and walls blink white back at you and none of that matters, as long as you have that one thing. Drug addiction has this scary ability to sift everything else into the periphery, to put you one on one with the smallest of carnal cravings and leave you two alone together to duke it out. I have known the periods where you wait, how they seem to hang in the air while you busily scatter about, not wanting to go outside, not wanting to be seen by a world that may recognize your need.

To see Requiem is to witness the breaking point of human willpower. All the characters in the end are laying in a bed somewhere, most of them curled up like babies and turned to the side, still processing what it is that has happened to them. I believe the entire movie takes place in the time span of less than a year, which is almost as long as my coke habit lasted. If a movie had been made during that point of my life, I wonder how it would look. If it could be made, I would force myself to sit through that too, because although I don’t want to dwell on it, I don’t ever want to forget it. Not that it is possible, really, for me at least.

Even now, a few years later, when coke is mentioned in conversation or used casually by someone I know, part of me wants to get some, part of me is more than sensitive. In addition to having compiled faith in knowing what it means to be delivered, I rationalize that, with my luck, even though I escaped potential death in my prior life (coke being as stepped on as it is in this city), the one time I would try it again, I’d likely get a pure bag and die right there, and that would be the best scenario. I’d rather not push my luck, or the grace bestowed upon me, so I don’t.

Unlike other drug-oriented movies, Requiem really has no sub-plot, no meddling distraction from what is taking place in the characters’ lives. Anything outside of the score remains there, a mere inconvenience, par for the course. That, to me, is most of how my drug addiction was; I shut my heart off and couldn’t feel anything, so what I did to or with my body didn’t matter. It was, looking back, the worst year for my life as a human.

I would suggest to anyone, even those who have no personal experience with drug addiction, that this movie should be seen. It is a rare art form, one that disturbs, horrifies, and yet enables us to identify with it on the most basic level. When Harry’s mother talks to him about how lonely she is having no one to take care of, how this opportunity to appear on TV through the mail and lose weight through uppers has allowed her to have motivation in what’s left of her life, we all, no matter how old or young we think we are, can sympathize with feeling less than optimistic about our own lives. Judging from the time period in which the movie was made, none of the outcomes are particularly fantastic, except for the fact that everyone in it survives, if only with parts of themselves. I would suggest that you take a friend, because someone should be there to be speechless with you on the ride home.