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Requiem for a Dream

Darren Aronofsky's controversial and critically acclaimed 2000 film adaptation of Hubert Selby, Jr.'s novel.

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Addiction, Dependency, Love, Loneliness, Obsession

  • Nov 13, 2008
  • by
Requiem is one of those little known movies, quietly powerful, that will leave you reeling with emotion in its wake. Even unfeeling husks like myself will not escape unscathed.

This is a beautifully mastered film about drug addiction, but not in standard, drugs-are-bad format. Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) is a junkie who dreams of being a better person but still regularly hawks his mother's battered TV set for fix money. He and his friend Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans) and girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) decide to go into dealing, to set themselves up so that they never have to worry again.

Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Harry's mother, is a lonely widow who spends her simple days watching TV, eating chocolates, and gossiping with her friends. Until she receives a phone call saying that she has won a chance to be on television, and with this dream comes a revitalization of Sara's life. Determined to fit into her old red dress when they call her to be on television, Sara embarks on a diet. Unable to resist food, her only companion through her lonely widowhood, Sara goes to a quack doctor for diet pills.

It is extremely fascinating how `Requiem' managed to tackle two separate types of addiction in one movie, blending their patterns, their cause-and-effect, and their rise-and-decline results into one sweeping expanse of cinematic pleasure. Imbedded behind this well directed and well-photographed movie is an eerie soundtrack, with an ominous score repeated throughout the movie giving audio fuel to the increasingly horrific visuals.

`Requiem' will leave you hollowed out, numb, aching in a profound and disturbingly vague way. It is filled with hope and hopelessness, love and destruction, compulsion and self-defeating purposes, centered around that gaping wound called addiction. Look for spectacular performances from Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie 1 & 2), Jennifer Connelly (Labyrinth), and Jared Leto (The Panic Room). Each of these actors/actresses give us their best performances to date in `Requiem', and tip your hat to the realism from the supporting cast members.

If you watch only one movie this year, make it Requiem For A Dream, and if you only get to watch two movies, then watch this one twice. Also of note, if this movie touches your soul the way it touched mine, go out and grab up a copy of the book `Candy', by Luke Davies. Also themed around addiction, it uses the same despairing approach to this tender subject as `Requiem' does. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Enjoy!
Requiem For A Dream

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December 17, 2008
You know, I saw this movie twice many years ago. In fact, the film was the reason a friend of mine became a Democrat, haha! It's an excellent one, and like you, I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking for a movie to watch, even if it's the only one they could see in a year.
More Requiem for a Dream reviews
review by . January 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****     Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream" asks the question: what is a drug? After watching this film, I just don't know how to provide a proper answer. Such an intense experience leaves you feeling drained; and I've been finding that a lot lately with Aronofsky's films in particular. Don't worry; it's a good kind of drained that I'm feeling; the kind you get from staring too much at too many things. "Requiem" has so much going on that it's almost overwhelming, …
Quick Tip by . May 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I can see what all the fuss is about, and why this movie still gets talked about more than a decade after its release.  Aronofsky pulls out all the stops, and this is one of the most relentlessly directed movies I've seen in a long time.   It's effective, but in a weird, kind of converse way.   Addiction looks terrible, yes, but getting a haircut would look pretty hellish if Aronofsky filmed and cut it the way he did the final twenty minutes of this film.  It made me …
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
One of the most terrifying and provacative stories I have seen about the destructive power of addiction, and the many forms that that can take when we give ourselves over to pleasure and abandon purpose.
Quick Tip by . June 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
An absolute masterpiece of the modern cinema, Darren Aronofsky's dark meditation on themes of addiction, desperation, and self-destruction is one of the most important films of the new millennium. A brilliantly directed and acted film with an incredible score by Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Shows how addictions can appear in many different ways, and how it can affect your life. Such an amazing and powerful film.
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Wow. Powerful. Disturbing. And proved Marlon Wayan can do more than just crappy movies w/ his brothers.
Quick Tip by . January 21, 2010
A stark film that looks deep into the human psyche and really shows the downward spiral of addiction with an unflinching eye. Terrific film!
review by . December 17, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Performances, cinematic style, and story line despite the mood      Cons: None for me, but the very bleak nature of it will turn many off      The Bottom Line: There are films with unpleasant things to say but that need saying. Requiem should be near the top of this imaginary list.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      There have been more than a hundred reviews …
review by . November 05, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is disturbing, strange, emotionally riveting, and ultimately devasting. All of those adjectives would seem like a redlight to NOT view this film, but the brilliance of this creation by Darren Aronofsky after Hubert Selby, Jr.'s book does what few films do - it makes a gut-wrenching learning experience. From the hardcore heroin addiction to the even more terrifying addiction to doctor-prescribed "medication" drugs we are shown the gamut of how cruel this disease of addiction is …
review by . June 16, 2001
Pros: Electrifying, painfully real...     Cons: None...     The Bottom Line: Show it your children as an educational tool!     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. Exhausted! Mentally and emotionally drained to the point of stunned numbness, is how my spouse and I felt after watching Requiem for a Dream. We both sat on the couch for several moments after the movie ended watching the credits go by in complete …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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Employing shock techniques and sound design in a relentless sensory assault,Requiem for a Dreamis about nothing less than the systematic destruction of hope. Based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr., and adapted by Selby and director Darren Aronofsky, this is undoubtedly one of the most effective films ever made about the experience of drug addiction (both euphoric and nightmarish), and few would deny that Aronofsky, in following his breakthrough filmPi, has pushed the medium to a disturbing extreme, thrusting conventional narrative into a panic zone of traumatized psyches and bodies pushed to the furthest boundaries of chemical tolerance. It's too easy to call this a cautionary tale; it's a guided tour through hell, with Aronofsky as our bold and ruthless host.

The film focuses on a quartet of doomed souls, but it's Ellen Burstyn--in a raw and bravely triumphant performance--who most desperately embodies the downward spiral of drug abuse. As lonely widow Sara Goldfarb, she invests all of her dreams in an absurd self-help TV game show, jolting her bloodstream with diet pills and coffee while her son Harry (Jared Leto) shoots heroin with his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) and slumming girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly). They're careening toward madness at varying speeds, and Aronofsky tracks this gloomy process by endlessly repeating the imagery of their deadly routines. Tormented by her dietary regime, Sara even imagines a carnivorous refrigerator in one...

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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Genre: Drama
Release Date: October 6, 2000
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 1hr 42min
Studio: Artisan Entertainment
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