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Requiem for a Dream
Year:
2000
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Darren Aronofsky
Ellen Burstyn as Sara Goldfarb
Jared Leto as Harry Goldfarb
Jennifer Connelly as Marion Silver
Marlon Wayans as Tyrone C. Love
Christopher McDonald as Tappy Tibbons
Janet Sarno as Mrs. Pearlman
Suzanne Shepherd as Mrs. Scarlini
Joanne Gordon as Mrs. Ovadia
Charlotte Aronofsky as Mrs. Miles
Mark Margolis as Mr. Rabinowitz
Michael Kaycheck as Donut Cop (as Mike Kaycheck)
Jack O'Connell as Corn Dog Stand Boss
Storyline: Drugs. They consume mind, body and soul. Once you're hooked, you're hooked. Four lives. Four addicts. Four failures. Despite their aspirations of greatness, they succumb to their addictions. Watching the addicts spiral out of control, we bear witness to the dirtiest, ugliest portions of the underworld addicts reside in. It is shocking and eye-opening but demands to be seen by both addicts and non-addicts alike.
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Reviews
Made by someone who was never in the game
This is a movie made by someone who was never in the game, and written by someone who has been out of it for years.

There is nothing remotely truthful about this movie. The people who think that it is - don't know the first thing about drug addiction. It does have one thing in common with a drug addict, though. It is repetitive and boring.

I was really looking forward to this film. I loved PI. I just hope Aronofsky isn't a one shot wonder.
2002-02-12
Nonsensical nonsense that has no point.
I was told by several people that this was an excellent movie. I watched the entire film (just to give it a fair chance) and it was a depressing view of drug culture. It gave non-junkies nothing to grasp on to. Often excellent movies do not have a easily definable message, but they seem to offer insight into the human condition. This movie had none. This movie is only "cool" because someone somewhere said it was.
2002-04-05
A unique look at addiction by Aronofsky/Selby; it's the best DARE movie never made (or would be made)
Mr. Aronofsky's Requiem for a dream definitely is unique- no other film I have seen on heroin and/or speed addiction has been filmed or acted like this. And it helps that I saw it again, because on a first viewing I looked more for the performances, and liked it, but didn't really regard the actual cinematic technique for it with as much un-equaled regard as many others have (at the time I considered it more of an MTV-styled take on a very powerful topic). But now watching it years later (2006 I mean, despite what the date of this comment says) I watch it, having gone through lots of other film-viewing experience, and I like it a lot more. In a way what's really mesmerizing and heartbreaking about the picture is that the contrivances are not based in the actual script or story- not that there isn't one or two that might be hard to not have in there- but rather a sort of fashioning of continuous cinematic contrivance.

In other words, Aronofsky pushes the bounds of everything that can be done with the camera and editing in terms of subjective-viewpoints, ideas through montage, and the power of abstractions in the realm of the main theme of the film- unattainable escapism. One might be tempted to compare to Eisenstein with the montage, but unlike him Arnonofsky isn't putting forward a political message, but a societal one. While the cinematography by Matthew Libatique and the editing by Jay Rambinowitz give the viewer the whole subjective, jarring view of what it feels like in the first person to do these dangerous drugs, some of the time, all this being says, it almost goes by too quickly (if you blink you'll miss the characters actually intaking the drugs, which are done in half second cuts). Not that that's a bad thing, and in fact the techniques used here, which include fast-motion, camera-strapped-on-the-front-of-a-person shots, odd high-angle placements, and wild array of things done that I still wonder how one could think them up, are quite ingenious. Only one scene on a repeat viewing- when Sarah Goldfarb (Burtyn) is going totally off the deep-end in her apartment with the TV show spiraling around her- doesn't totally work for me.

Also, it will be difficult for some people to view the characters in their dissension to demise. Bustyn, (who, if you still believe the Oscars to really be a mark of merit for true achievements, proves this to be false via her loss to the much less warranted Julia Robert) plays an old, lonely woman who dreams of getting on a game-show that she doesn't realize might not be real and decides her favorite red dress is all that matters for the show to the show. It's too small, so she goes to the doctor to get pills (uppers) and they do indeed work, but then she starts taking too, too many and ends up hallucinating that her refrigerator is moving (the first film to use a refrigerator puppeteer by the way) and then things start to spiral. This also goes for her entranged son Harry (Jared Leto) who is slipping into a descent into smack with his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) who sleeps with other men and then some in order to get stuff when Harry can, and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans in his best performance to date) who is also descending, but might seem to have it not as bad as the others by the time the film ends.

But like I said, it is hard to view these characters falling deeper and deeper into insanity and desperation and all since it is also difficult to sympathize with these people. Yet, by the end of the film I almost felt like I was going to burst into tears not because I felt sad for the characters but more because of how powerful there journey led then to their destination. Like it or not though, this film begs for multiple viewings- and some extra years of looking at other films, which was the case with me. There is almost no room for true catharsis at the end, and nothing will ever be the same for anyone, especially as they're alive and lacking redemption (though if I had to place who's story is most compelling, and performance-wise as well, it would be Burstyn's).
2001-12-22
The film-making quality is secondary- this film makes you FEEL
Often hype about films lead to disappointment and after waiting 14 months after release for my local cinema to show this film, I was done thinking about it. Thank goodness too, rather than challenge my brain (not hard to do unfortunately) this film went straight for the heart, ripped it out and kicked it around the floor for 90 minutes. As the addictions plunged further into the depths of Hell, I felt myself more and more arrested by the film. I've never left a film shaking or feeling physically ill- not including Pearl Harbour, of course :) You want to look away, but cannot.

This movie is by no means flawless, but then again I would like to hope that the flaws add to the gritty reality of the film. The ending was truly the most frightening thing I have ever seen in film- forget the cheap scares of The Exorcist, Psycho and the endless bile of the 'slasher flick', this stuff is REAL.

In a country amid a 'war against drugs' this is a powerful film which could do more to turn kids away from drugs than any measly government "task-force" or classroom lecture.
2001-06-18
Great direction, great acting, great score, great script combine to produce a great film that is depressing but totally gripping even if it will not be to everyone's taste
Harry and Tyrone are drug users who decide to try and make some money by cutting their cocaine and selling it on. This idea works very well and the pair start filling a shoe box with $20 bills – Harry even buys his mother, Sara, a television to make up for all the times that he used to steal her old one to sell it for cash. Sara has her won good news, after years of being an ordinary lonely widow she has the chance to appear on a television show herself and is actively dieting to try and fit into her favourite dress for it. With Harry's girlfriend pregnant but happily high, things take a bad turn when rival dealers start a war and dramatically cut the availability and up the price – forcing Harry and Tyrone to do whatever they can to get not only a fix but a supply to sell. Meanwhile, Sara's desire to lose weight sees her starting a regime of diet pills, morning, noon and night.

I came to this film with not even the slightest idea of what it was about but only that it was supposed to be 'good'. I was not totally prepared for a story that grabbed me from the start and delivered an intense narrative at breakneck pace with great acting, amazingly stylish directing, editing and production. While this onslaught will not be to everyone's tastes, I defy pretty much anyone not to be astonished by this film although I expect many will find it to be a pretty hard ride. The story sees four characters each getting into addiction and having it cause their lives to spiral out of control – and that's pretty much it. However it is not so much the story but the telling because it is the delivery that makes the film as amazing and compelling as it is; I don't want to oversell it but all aspects of this film come together perfectly. The writing is realistic and, although not containing the speeches that make a cast shine, is really well written and never strikes a bum note. The script writes highs and lows of addiction so very well that it is easy to forget that what you see in the film has come from a script and story boards.

Of course without the delivery then this would have struggled but it is blessed not only with good actors giving great performances but also average actors giving great performances. Burstyn is amazing – and I'm not overdoing that; hers is a fearless performance that is totally, totally convincing. Her descent is so tragic and involving that it is a major art of the story instead of the subplot it appeared it would be. Connelly is the next to stick in the mind, conveying a total peace and beauty when things are good but a terrible sweaty look of inner agony on her face as she degrades herself for drugs – an amazing performance. Leto is not someone I'm that aware of but he was good here and held his own well beside the two actresses. However the actual surprise of the film came from Wayans; I'm so used to hating him in lazy performances that I forgot he can act and he is good here – avoiding all the ethnic clichés that he usually does. McDonald is excellent in his cleverly used segments. It is easy to dismiss his performance as cheesy and easy but he does get it spot on (as the extras on the DVD show). Supporting roles for people of the recognisable likes of David, Baker, Weeks and Naidu only help.

Of course the main impact of the film comes from the relentless direction that not only produces a stylish product but also draws the audience into the highs and lows the characters experience as well as the repetitive rituals of their lives. He also handles the hallucinations really well – making them genuinely disturbing when they come have been silly. I cannot describe it very well but the direction really hits the nail on the head with heavy style and different techniques. Of course, some may feel that they have seen elements of it before and will say of Aronofsky that he has borrowed much of what we see – certainly the front mounted camera on the characters harks back to Mean Streets and Spike Lee to name two, while others will look at the reference to Dark City (even though Aronofsky) or claim that the hyper direction is Trainspotting X10! However to accuse him of just stealing is lazy and nonsensical because he weaves it altogether for the whole running time; this is not a rip off or a fluke, this is a talented director spinning style and substance. The score by Mansell and the Kronos Quartet is perfect and is a wonderful compliment to the images, increasing their impact and making the film feel fast and exciting at times, tragic and moving at other times. These are just two examples but the film is technically impressive – whether it be the different cameras, the make up, the editing, the use of mobile stop motion, it is all impressive.

Overall this is an amazing film but it is not one that will appeal to all audiences. It is bleak, relentless and a hard watch but it is worth it because it grabs you and refuses to let you go until the very end. The film has a simple plot but a great script that is delivered by a collection of great performances – in particular from Burstyn and Connelly. The direction only adds to Aronofsky's reputation and the original score is fantastic. I am rarely left breathless by a film but I was by this one and I honestly cannot believe that this escaped me for so many years.
2004-10-10
Downer Picturesque.
I just saw Requiem For A Dream and I have to say, I was blown away. Not since 1995's The Basketball Diaries, has a film so accurately portrayed the craving and depravity of a person dealing with(or succumbing to) addiction. It is a beautifully articulated piece of artwork, intricately presented on a silver platter. Director Darren Aronofsky shines in his brilliant direction and style, in this depiction of the downward spiral of the lives of four people, living with their respective addictions.

Jared Leto, gives an excellent, solid performance as Harry Goldfarb, a man living an inch from his life, always in search of a fix. In an emotional powerhouse of a performance, he proves to audiences that he can shine through in a major role as opposed to previous smaller roles in Fight Club and American Psycho. However, it appears to be a Hollywood in-joke of sorts in that it seems he has a penchant for mutilation or at least the roles he seems to take on seem to have for him. In Fight Club, he had his face rearranged and in American Psycho, his head cut off. In Requiem however, it is the mutilation of his life, his whole character, that takes centerstage, ending in a satisfying climax of gargantuan proportions in which he gives the audience more than their money's worth in his power-packed performance.

However, the real star of the film lies in the talent of Ellen Burstyn. Audiences will wonder at her appearance at the beginning of the film, not really knowing if it is, in fact, her. Her performance as a television, sugar and eventually, diet pill-addicted mother of Harry shows that she's still got it after all these years. If you want to make a comparison of her thespian skills throughout the years, watch the revived version of The Exorcist. She can only get better. She takes on the role of Sarah Goldfarb with gusto, never backing down for a second. Totally throwing herself into the role, you tend to forget how she really looks like, given only fleeting moments in the film which suggest her real appearance. I have to say, she's got guts. How many female actresses her age would dare to have a camera strapped to her person(as Aronofsky so creatively did), an inch away from her face with a wide angle lens? She definately deserves her Oscar nomination, if not, the Oscar itself, for her tour-de-force performance.

The other characters themselves hold their own with the two abovementioned powerhouses. Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans both realistically portray their respective roles as Marion Silver, Harry's girlfriend and rebellious suburbanite chick, who degenerates to prostitution for her fix and Tyrone C. Love, Harry's best friend and fellow pusher. Here, Wayans shows that he can lose his comic edge if needed, to portray a boy trapped in a man's body, just yearning for his mother's approval but seeking it instead, in drugs. Connelly as well, who has been taking on smaller roles and projects over the last few years, is finally given enough room to play with her character and gives a winning performance in Requiem.

The cinematography of Matthew Libatique gives total light on the chracterizations of the people in habiting Aronofsky's sick world, from the sliently flickering sick-green flourescents to the exaggerated wide angle shots and the beautifully sad and haunting Coney Island picturesque of the pier which suggests a certain beauty amidst all the sadness and depravity. A Downer Picturesque, as portrayed by the photographs of Robert Frank and the Frank influenced cinematography of Darius Khondji in Seven. In my books, Matthew Libatique has just joined those ranks.

Jay Rabinowitz' editing stands out as well, with in-your-face smash title cards(emphasising the downward crash of the character's lives through the seasons), as well as the close-up constructions of the drug taking process. The latter sequences, edited so tightly and seamlessly, make the moment so beautiful but so fleeting, as is the case with drugs. The sequences are almost like a drug, making you crave for more of them, a fix which you get, whenever the characters get their own fix in the film. Lots of people might misinterpret this as glamourising the drug culture but these moments are so fleeting that they're over before you even know it, and then it's back to Harry, Marion, Sarah and Tyrone's sick and depraved search for the next fix, which very accurately portrays the twisted quest of a true and sincere addiction.

The film is also superbly scored by Clint Mansell and hauntingly performed by the Kronos Quartet. A series of hauntingly shocking, yet mind-numbingly beautiful pieces which linger in your head long after you've left the cinema.

Lastly, the direction of Aronofsky, brilliant, beautiful, empathic. There are not enough words to describe his direction or this film and I think the best way to say it is that I am speechless. Aronofsky has shown me that, jaded by so many films, something can still prompt me to sit up and take notice. To see something that I have never seen before or learn something I don't already know. The ending, is sheer power. A masterpiece of all the elements of what filmmaking is about, mixed together in some sick souffle and thrown into your face, burning hot and scalding. The film leaves a deep impression, in fact, a huge scar. And it is a scar I am proud to wear.
2001-03-29
Over-rated morality tale
The real descent into the quagmire is the last 30 minutes of this film, not the characters within the film. According to this film this is what you can expect from drug abuse: 1. Being force-fed in a public hospital (have these people heard of the IV drip?) and then ECT without any form of anaethesia (every bone in that woman's body would have shattered)- did they take her to a hospital in Eastern Europe?? 2. People with severe septicaemia will be denied hospital treatment and thrown into a cell on suspicion of being a drug addict until they require amputation. Watch and learn - it's fine to be a junkie as long as you don't get caught. 3. A man will be allowed to vomit into food being prepared in a government run correction facility. If you are bad, you eat vomit. OK? 4. A middle class chick will end up on the other end of a black dildo in order to feed her drug habit. Yawn... I mean, this film says more about what kind of overblown morality Americans are willing to accept in films than anything about drug abuse or its consequences. The anti-drug message descends into hyperbole and farce and I found myself laughing hysterically where I was supposed to be shocked and repulsed. Give me a break. These sanitised stories are just too ridiculous. As well as this, we are offered the same old, same old routine of white-powder-imagery and colourful-pill-popping. These guys injected something and were bopping around the place, next minute they snort something and they are all on the nod...go figure? And please, the heavy handedness of the junkie losing an arm...spare me, I am not that easily shocked or unaware of symbolism-overkill.
2002-08-25
Bad Trip
Keep on playing those mind games forever! What a wasted of a talented cast giving their all from top to bottom. But this that wants to prove how hip it is by plotting the most senses-assaulting grizzly death possible for its characters, and the drug trips the audiences are put through are all bad. So, in the end, all this talent is wasted.
2001-06-16
we are all dumber after watching this movie
this movie is so bad i cant put it into words. how can some people say "if you don't like this movie its bc you cant watch it with a open mind" sorry i value my time and i don't care about the life of a drug addict and there horrible tough life that they chose for them self. If you like the feel sorry for yourself movies then you might like it. the only thing this movie has to offer is good music. other then that its about heroin addicts and what they will do for drugs. WHO CARES!!!!! This Movie actually got very comical after awhile. If you didn't know drugs are bad now you do, and don't have to watch this movie and lose 90 min of your life!!!
2011-07-03
confusing "high" art with substance
I tend to enjoy movies that depict reality, no matter the extremes. However, this movie was way off base. At the start, I was entertained by the cinematography. Enjoyment soon gave way to utter disbelief and disgust. If the message was "just say no", this was the epitome of overkill. Never have I seen a movie containing such degrading graphic images of women. Even the fancy drug-using scenes became predictable. I would recommend this flick to no one.
2000-11-16
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