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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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A Ride on the Dark side of the Moon!

  • Jun 16, 2001
  • by
Rating:
+3
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 silence. The only noise was that of the eerily beautiful violin passage that accompanied most of the movie (I found myself strangely drawn to it, like a gull to water), and the sounds of the late evening spring wind rustling the green, green tree across the street from our apartment.

Finally, my spouse turned to me and said in a silent defeated voice, that the movie had left her drained, scarcely able to move or think. She further remarked that the images from the movie would most likely follow her to bed and haunt her in her dreams; they did! I nodded and said I felt the same, and while she went to take a cooling shower, and thus wash away the memories, I crept outside to the balcony to taste the cool wind on my skin in an effort to ground myself. As I listened to the wind caress the leafs of trees and whisper pleasant nothing into unhearing ears, I returned to myself and gave thanks to God that I have never been one to mask the everyday stuff of life with substances designed to alter my fragile brains' chemical balance.

Our reaction to Requiem for a Dream I am sure is not isolated. The movie with its fast action repeating scenes and the countless subliminal messages can't help but draw you in and tie you up in emotional knots not soon escaped. Anyone who can watch the movie in its entirety and not feel drained, not feel moved, or just plain numb, is not human!

Requiem for a Dream is writer-director Darren Aronofsky's sophomore follow up to his much-admired debut film PI, which won the best director's award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.

Requiem was a non-stop, blistering, often horrifying look into the world of drug abuse, both legal and illegal. The movie centered around four principle characters: Harry portrayed new comer Jared Leto, is a heroin addict whose habit eventfully costs him dearly; Sarah portrayed by Ellen Burstyn, is Harry's bored and lonely mother who becomes addicted to diet drugs after being invited to appear on her favorite TV game show; Marion portrayed by Jennifer Connelly, is Harry's girlfriend, who as the movie progresses losses her very soul in search of a fix; and Tyrone portrayed by Marlon Wayans is Harry's best friend and fellow addict, who winds up losing less than all the rest when all is said and done.

All turn in stellar performances, but I was surprised by the depth of Ellen Burstyns' Sarah. Her portrayal of an older woman's fall into the depths of a drug-induced fantasyland was a mean bit of acting. After watching the movie I can see why hers was singled out as perhaps the best performance of the movie. Marlon Wayans stripped of his comedic overcoat turns in fine performance as well, giving us a look at the soul of a man wanting to stop the abuse of his mind and body, but not sure where to start. Jennifer Connelly turns in her finest performance to date as a woman searching for meaning, a place to be, a sense of belonging, something real to hold onto and love. All of Jennifer's movie roles up to his point have been as window dressing, eye candy for the male masses. In this role, she proves she can act, and turns in an agonizing performance. She is portrayed as strikingly beautiful and in control, and as haggard and outside of herself as the drugs seduce her into doing that which she would otherwise not have done.

The last 15-20 minutes of the film is not for the faint of heart; all of the characters are consigned to their faiths in a rapidly changing montage of horror filled scenes in which human dignity is striped and ripped from the four without regard or compassion. And God (and salvation) is just a distant light fading in the far reaches of their minds; there is no guardian angel to save them from themselves, no white doves, no kind words, nor understanding, only grieve, suffering, and misery. Is there any wonder we were exhausted by the end of it all?

The moral of the story, as if one needed to be voiced after the film is seen, is this: what so often starts out as pleasure will lead to pain if indulged in to excess. Drugs as a quick fix for what ails you, be it life, or excessive weigh will alter your very soul and take you places you are better off not going outside your slumbering dreams. Stay away, stay far away, from the drugs, but see the movie and learn the reason why!


Recommended:
Yes

Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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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 . February 21, 2011
Schools should drop the D.A.R.E. program and just show this film to fifth-graders. They'd never do drugs.
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
posted in Screen Gems
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 . November 13, 2008
Requiem For A Dream
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 …
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 …
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #188
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Wiki

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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Details

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