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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
Unique, but extreme, preachy, and overrated film
This will likely be the most modest review you'll read of this film in the first few pages of a sea of 10s. I nonetheless, am convinced a 7 is the highest the film deserves. Aronofsky creates a unique film about the horrors of four characters spiraling into a chaotic conclusion due drug addiction. However, his reliance on creating an extreme, hyperbolic film undermines the movie's appeal. The film seems to be an example of pushing the boundaries simply for the sake of pushing boundaries, as no real message. It would be similar to calling a horror movie a 'classic' because the director showed a bloody decapitation after bloody decapitation or a romance movie being considered a 'classic' because it has 1/2 hour of real sex. Nonsense. The best films are the ones that leave the gory or gruesome details to the imagination yet leave you with an extraordinary impact and a message. I really got no message from the film which is heavily focused on torturing four miserable characters again and again....and again and again. What's the point? The four main actors in the film are phenomenal. Marlon Wayans surprisingly gives a stunning break out performance for someone known for starring trivial and mediocre pop culture comedies. He may have given the best or second best performance of the four. Jennifer Connelly gives a credible performance as a desperate and loyal girlfriend forced to do unthinkable sex acts. The actors strengths are their modesty and ability to succumb themselves to the most demeaning things possible.

The music of the film is memorable. The film has one main theme song, but it is the most memorable and haunting theme song ever I've ever heard. I downloaded it immediately after the film. The music emphasized the tone of the film.

The major weakness of the film, despite the great acting, are the characters. There's no bones about it, the characters are pure idiots. The fact that they're idiots leaves me little ability to sympathize with them, and I was trying my hardest. Furthermore, despite other reviewers efforts to paint them as "tragic heroes", the main characters are not heroes in any form. It's even a stretch to suggest that they're good people. For instance, Connelly's character initially seduces an older man simply to get money. Leto's character upsets his mother repeatedly by selling her television set. Yes, they all do this to subdue their addiction.. but the term hero cannot be thrown around aimlessly. They're simply dubious protagonists. Yeah, they try to aim to get out of the drug culture and start prosperous lives. The characters have great chemistry with each other, they are somewhat slightly charismatic, but they don't do anything remotely generous or pious in the film to warrant praise as "tragic heroes."

You can watch this film and immediately see the end coming. Part of you naively and helplessly hopes the film takes a sudden right turn into brighter pastures, but that is simply not the case. Aronofonsky might tease you in the beginning, but he brings you to the most overly dramatic conclusion like a car crashing into a brick wall. Ironically, while many critics bashed 'The Passion' for overemphasizing torture and maiming of Christ again and again and again and again over other aspects of Christ (and rightly so, that film has its flaws as well), it surprising these critics praise similar methods of repetitive "how can it get any worse" torture done to rather shady characters nonstop.

I'm not saying this film needed a happy ending to be a good movie. But if it has a tragic ending, it should have a message. If it's just "don't do drugs", than that's a grave disappointment and waste of time for a supposedly deep experimental film.

To his credit, the director utilizes a neat and impressive artistic style known as "hip hop montage." The surreal spinning directing was a doozy but a great asset to the film.

This film I guess is worth a watch once. But once is only time I've seen it, and I'll never sit through that film all the way through again. Period. I'm pretty confident in saying that most of those "10s" people have only seen it once and will make an excuse not to see it again. The only people who will see this film again are overly depressed and eccentric, pessimistic types.... A classic has to be more than a overly nihilistic novelty act.
2005-08-14
The Ultimate in WTF
I have no idea what to say about this film. Is it good? Maybe. Is it bad? It shows shades but it is not terrible. I have never seen such a film which gets so much right yet at the same time so very much wrong.

It is well shot, acted, directed, and as for writing says what it wants to say very well. However, it is a major downer, cannot seem to hold interest, and the message is a bit heavy-fisted throughout. I feel the suffering, but much of it seems overblown.

I would not recommend this to anyone, but still feel it to be a technical marvel. I guess if you're really curious you could see it, but it is too disturbing for most and will not resonate strongly due to the way the message is portrayed.

The five stars you see in the review are just for convenience so I know I've seen it. My actual rating is *null*/5 because no star rating would do my opinion of the film justice.
2013-11-27
So overrated. Not authentic. Shallow.
A wallowing in a false underbelly. Ellen Burstyn's one-note shrieking, Jared Leto's awful accent - it's fake and annoying. This movie rode a wave of bs hype. I love it when people claim it's authentic. There's nothing authentic about it. It's all surface. And people fell for it. It's a fake, an emperor with no clothes. Stuttering muttering and yelling, nothing happens but actors chewing scenery and a once-talented director indulging masturbatory fantasies. There's no there there. If drug abuse was merely an irritant, this film would have some small merit. But it's a problem with more depth than the filmmaker acknowledged. The director went off the rails for this overrated waste of time.
2005-03-31
Sadism as Film Genre
You don't need to pine for nothing but old MGM musicals to be disgusted by the blatant sadism fueling movies like this. That is to say, I fully accept the tragic decline of characters in keeping with a story, nor do I object to miserable endings when the course dictates that. I'm a grown-up. But. There is something nasty going on with films like this, wherein increasingly grotesque displays of characters undergoing horror are presented as 'reality', or, God help us, art. No good storyteller in any medium actually needs to show us, inch by inch, how low his characters are going. As in this dreadful, pretentious movie. Reviews here sensibly bring out the absurd mistakes, like Burstyn's Etc without anaesthesia or the drug dealer's ridiculous giving away of heroin for a little sex, yet seem to miss that these absurdities are there to serve the director's sadistic purpose: to make everyone suffer really badly, and right in front of us. That is not film-making. That is an adolescent's idea of being shocking and gritty, and it's insulting all around. Give me a story that realistically portrays these very dreams falling apart, with some humanity and not as an exercise in visual cruelty, and I'm on board. This? It's prurient garbage under the guise of serious movie-making.
2010-06-16
Reefer Madness for the MTV generation...
This is a film. This a film addicted to gimmicks. SPLAT! Any questions?

The pretentiously titled REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is a film that is dark, depressing, achingly dreary and laughably awful at every turn. It is like watching a drunk or an addict wallowing in self pity, only to have him interrupt his moaning and groaning with fits of uncontrollable laughter. You don't know whether to pity him, laugh at him or just smile and slowly back away. Nowhere else will you find a film so self-consciously solemn and meticulously constructed, yet so hysterically out of control.

The film is about the evils of addiction, so it is ironic that the director is hopelessly addicted to clichés and gimmicks. One thing for certain is that director Darren Aronofsky seems desperate to impress somebody. He's the kid with the thesaurus who can't turn in a book report unless he makes certain that every word is at least 10 letters long. Only now he's a film school kid who just figured out how to use all those cool gadgets on the camera. As such, REQUIEM is wall-to-wall cinematic tricks: split screens, split-second editing, fisheye images, fast forward, time lapse and oh-so many really nifty-crazy-weird camera angles. It all goes for that Oh-wow! factor. But when every scene is a calculated stunt, then no individual stunt has any effect. It's like an opera screeched in only one note or a room where everything is the same shade of blood red. The overall effect is shockingly effective only because it is all so unrelentingly unpleasant.

The idea, I suppose, is to clue us in on how hyper the world must seem in a drug induced haze, but that is rendered meaningless since the film goes hyper even during innocuous moments. Indeed, what passes for everyday reality is presented as being so melodramatically arty or intensely overwrought that at times Aronofsky has to resort to the overtly ridiculous to even get back our attention. By the time Ellen Burstyn, as a diet pill-addicted old lady, finds herself being terrorized by her refrigerator, the film takes on the air of a particularly grotesque skit from Monty Python.

Even worse than Aronofsky's taste for psychedelic overkill (apparently inspired in equal parts by bad MTV videos, trendy TV commercials and grade-C drug movies of the 60s), is the director's self-righteous arrogance in assuming he has something original to say. Drugs are bad! Gosh, who knew? But even the simple nobility of that sentiment is buried under the sludge of his technique. The fates of the four main characters is so extreme, and so extremely presented, that the film unintentionally trivializes the very lecture it so pompously presents. Their fates -- insanity, mutilation, prison and sexual degradation -- are presented, not with an air of remorse and pity, but as a manic cinematic freak show. This is REEFER MADNESS on LSD; scare tactic propaganda served up as if it were from a crazed evangelist.

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the poor actors are forced to overact just to keep up with the hectic pace of the film's stylistics. Lost between their obviously phony Nu Yook accents and bug-eyed emoting, there is little room for genuine characterizations. Indeed, the fact that any semblance of a performances even survives is remarkable considering Aronofsky's veg-a-matic editing style. There are poignant moments, however fleeting, when the actors reveal depth and complexity in their characters, but those instances of subtlety are brushed aside as Aronofsky rushes to get back to the grandiose surrealism.

Can there be anything more personal than an addiction? Yet, Aronofsky has made a film that is frenetic, yet cold and mechanical. This is a film by a filmmaker who has no faith in either his message or his audience. Everything is hammered home, amplified and repeated because the director doesn't think we will get it if he simply states the obvious. Had Aronofsky just made a simple little horror movie, maybe his gross-out/creep-out/freak-out stylistics might have been amusing. But he has tackled a serious social issue and reduced drug abuse to the level of being a Freddie Krueger bogeyman. I don't doubt the sincerity of his anti-drug rant, I just find it hopelessly condescending. It is film-making as shock treatment, designed to beat the viewer down to the point of vulnerability, exhausted and ready for brainwashing.
2004-07-22
The triumph of form over substance ranks as audience abuse
This movie struck me as utterly phony, which was surprising as Aronfsky's prior film, "Pi," was amazing. Never once, from the very beginning, did I believe I was watching anything but specific actors play-acting. Ellen Burtsyn's thick slice of ham cut close to the bone was embarrassing, and her New York "Jewish" accent coming in a film released in the year 2000 struck me as outrageous! I mean, are we going back to "The Goldbergs" and 1950?

The whole film struck me as ersatz, artificial -- it had this 1950 junkie sensibility of Selby grafted onto this "hip hop" style that was simply jarring. The screenplay, which was co-written with Selby, was so predictable I began amusing the woman I was watching the film with by actually giving her the next line. I was right too often for comfort. The massacre during the dope dealing sequence in the back of the supermarket not only was telegraphed far ahead, but was incredibly STUPID. I did not believe the scene for a minute. Is it supposed to be a dream? I ask that as it has NO LOGIC.

Perhaps the biggest problem were the two leads -- Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. While their acting was quite good, they looked like they had deplaned at JFK from Beverly Hills that very morning. Connelly is too good looking for the role (she does not look the part of a junkie; in contrast, Samantha Morton, who granted is a better actress, looks the part of a junkie in "Jesus's Son"); a woman that looks like Connelly could be a call girl making many thousands of dollars a night, which made her "descent" into hell ridiculous. What is the problem with her character: she's just plain stupid?

Leto looks like a male model. (There used to be an old joke when I was a kid: Funny, it don't look Jewish. Leto, whose character I assume is at least half Jewish, looks as pure Irish as Connelly; in fact, they look enough alike to be brother and sister, which I'm sure was intentional but which was downright weird.)

The ending, the denouement of the three main characters' stories, was so over-the-top that my friend and I began laughing out loud. (I will say, Burstyn was excellent during the harrowing scene of the force feeding. The look on her face of pain, humiliation and resignation was haunting -- a great moment in screen acting.) Just intercutting two of the stories, son and mother, would have been enough, but the sexual imagery and situation of Connelly's character was so evocative of a throwing everything in but the kitchen sink mentality, we just couldn't stop howling. I mean -- COME ON! I'm chuckling right now thinking of the scene. It certainly dissipated the power of the son's horror (though not that of Burstyn, due to the great control she displayed in her acting; perhaps Aronfsky should learn the value of SUBTLTY from that part of her performance).

I think people were wowed by the directoral pyrotechnics, but frankly, this film's triumph of form over substance ranks as audience abuse!
2001-06-15
A monumental cinematic backwards step
Take it away Mr Aronofsky.....

"Some people just won't get it".

Aha. Obviously what you mean is, that some of us IDIOTS won't get it. Right? We know nothing about drugs! We don't UNDERSTAND the youth of today! Preach away.

"I decided not to use any visual tricks or techniques unless it was completely essential to the story".

Oh my Mr Aronofsky. You've shown us just what its like to be on drugs!! Woah! Crazy! Everything's all spinny!! I feel dizzy! I suppose the flashiness of the film was an accident, no? Some people seem to think the film looks wonderful. But what happens when they find the Tracer function on your camera Darren? What is your film without its Kerayzy look?

Garbage is what it is, plain and simple. Phoney emotional resonance ripped straight out of a textbook, pretty damn ordinary performances (bar the extraordinary Ellen Burstyn), KERAYZY trippy visuals, an ending thats so insanely OTT it makes Reefer Madness look restrained, and boring cardboard characters, all wrapped up in a visual style that hey, is "real".

For all Mr Aronofsky's bold claims, this is a film for people who refuse to live in the real world. This is as extreme a jerk off as Forrest Gump was 7 years ago. A double bill of both films would, I'm sure, prove to be very telling.

Aronofsky hasn't sold out by making Batman. THIS is probably the purest sell out in movie history. Don't worry about it Darren. I'm sure you'll get your Oscar one day.
2001-04-03
Like being repeatedly punched in the back of the head by Mike Tyson
It's difficult to know what to say about Requiem For A Dream. I first saw it in the cinema when it was released in England and I have never seen an audience react to a film like this one. The climactic sequence, where the protagonists are effectively destroyed by their addictions, seemed to trigger a bout of heavy breathing in the audience. As it was ending I heard a few people crying. My girlfriend and I didn't say a single word to each other on the bus home.

I bought the film on DVD the day it came out, but it took me around six months to watch it again. And only then because a friend of mine was curious. If anything, the impact was heavier than the first time I watched it and I've vowed never to watch it ever again.

Yet I have still awarded a rating of 10 on imdb and would definitely assert that it's one of the three greatest films I have ever seen. Why? The acting is just amazing. Jennifer Connolly gives the best performance of her career (not too tricky considering the movies she's been in) and remains stunningly beautiful (in a haggard sort of a way) and noble even when she's roped into a gang bang to fund her heroin habit. Jared Leto annoyed me intensely in Fight Club but he's perfect as hapless junky Harry - forever exuding an air of kindly incompetence that endears him to the audience but that will ultimately destroy him. Marlon Wayans is equally brilliant - wearing a beaming smile for the first half of the film and a compelling look of confusion and betrayal for the rest of it.

As for Ellen Burstyn... never has an actress been so unfairly cheated out of an Oscar (and I've seen the atrocity that won Marcia Gay Harden that Oscar for). She is just the picture of sadness the whole film through - a heartbreaking example of what loneliness can do to vulnerable people. The scene where she complains to Harry about being old is honestly one of the most tragic things I've ever seen and it makes me want to break down just thinking about it.

As such, I can only recommend this incredibly important movie with certain reservations. If your favourite film is 'You've Got Mail' steer well clear. If 'Snow Dogs' has been your most thrilling cinematic experience of this year then put this film back on the shelf. Trust me, it'll save the costs incurred by those expensive therapy sessions.

However, if you believe that cinema is an important tool in helping us understand ourselves and that we will only achieve self awareness by plumbing the absolute depths of despair and self-destruction then you must watch Requiem For a Dream.
2002-01-30
Electroshock therapy for shock value
Before I get to the electroshock therapy, this is a nicely made movie about the horrors of hard core drug use. It has some great performances and for sure the lives of hard core drug addicts are not played for laughs.

That said, the camera work was not my cup of tea.. The quickly edited and reused bit with the locks of the door being one example. The colour was as dreary as the subject matter, which is about as dreary as it gets. I tried to watch this movie when it came out and didn't make it through, watched it years later and had a better impression (finished it), but alas it's not one of my favourite drug use movies.

Drugstore Cowboy, Naked Lunch, Ed Wood (could probably think of others), for me are more enjoyable movies that demonstrate how sad the life of a drug dependent person can be. Those movies also have other stuff going on, so it's more like taking a small whiff of the outhouse stink rather than the way Requiem fully shoves your face right into the smelly feces of drug abuse. Dude loses his ARM!!! Their friendship will NOT last forever!! She is going to get ZAPPED BY ELECTRICITY!!!

That brings me to the portrayal of electroshock therapy in this movie.

This movie plays electroshock therapy for shock value and shock value only. If you ever meet anyone in real life who has had shock therapy or a family member who has, please don't think about this movie.

Unless the movie is supposed to be taking place in the 40s or 50s, MAYBE then I could see it. But if I remember correctly this movie is supposed to be set in either the late 80s or early 90s.

1. They put people under when they do electroshock therapy. No awake, staring eyes, bad for movie drama I know..

2. It is generally a last resort for chronic depression. The lady in the movie was psychotic, they would have tried lots and lots of other things first. From what I remember they basically just wheel her in and hook her up to some electricity.

3. They give muscle relaxants so people don't spasm and jerk around, broken bones and twitching around doesn't happen.

I've seen many peoples mood improve vastly with electroshock therapy and the worst thing I've seen is some STM loss (that generally returns). For most who run out of options and end up trying it their short term memories aren't ones they are going to cherish anyway.

To conclude, the actress who gets electric shocks was the only redeeming thing about this movie for me. She was fantastic. Perhaps I was being too literal and the procedure shown in the movie was supposed to be from her psychotic perspective and thus not realistic, but in any case the rest of the characters were not ones I'd revisit anyway just to see her sequence again.
2013-05-01
One of the most overrated films of all time
I had an idea! My wife and I would make a jar with all of the classic films in we wanted to watch and we would draw one out a week and watch it. The first film that was drawn out of that jar was 'Requiem for a Dream'. "Great." I said "I've wanted to watch that for ages. I love the theme tune."

Little did I know then, that the theme tune is by far the best thing about this movie. I'm not going to go on too much because it has already taken too much time from me. But this is a warning to all film lovers out there. Heed my advice and listen well... DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM.

So with the warning issued I will try to explain a little before I close this page and never think about this terrible film again. There are plenty of films that are bad. There are plenty of films that are stupid. But Requiem for a Dream is like a handsome rogue that turns up at a party who tells great stories and looks for all the world on the outside that he has everything. But within he is an empty shell. The film maker believes his film is intelligent and original and visionary. But in reality it is just horrid, convoluted, strange, stupid, ignorant agonisingly plodding and at times just damn right rage inducing.

I don't know how we made it through to the end, but it was an epic chore and we did skip 'yet another one of those stupid fantasy scenes with the bloody TV.

But, at last, like a tortuous trek through the desert, we got to the dismal, depressing and convoluted ending. I looked at the wife and she looked at me and I said "That is the worst film I have ever seen."

The wife concurred.

The jar went in the bin, as we couldn't bring ourselves to even draw another name.

So DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM. You have been warned. Without being too offensive I feel many people who like this film are just trying to see what isn't really there and feel it is an 'intelligent film'. It isn't, it's just a bucket full of stale urine.
2016-08-03
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