Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Hmmm….so is doing drugs fun?

A widow (Ellen Burstyn)’s growing dependence on amphetamines and a self-help television show parallels the struggles of her heroin-addicted son (Jared Leto), his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) and friend (Marlon Wayans).

Having seen this film already way back when in 2009, I knew that I was in for a Debbie-downer none the less, which is what I got. However, there’s something with age that makes this film better in a way.

This film is absolutely Darren Aronofsky‘s right from the start, all the way till the last credit rolls off the screen. Aronofsky makes this film the psychedelic head-trip that it is with everything he throws at  us with all of the powerful and haunting imagery by his one-of-a-kind style. Aronofsky uses editing in the way that it should be used, as in the way to get inside the mind-set of its characters/stories. Whenever these people are popping pills or shootin’ up, we don’t just see them doing it with a slow burn, we just seem them doing it in an ultra-fast mode that’s done in a matter of 2 seconds. It shows the effect it has on the certain person where time sometimes speeds up, slows down, and even may take you into this dream-world where all of the craziest illusions just pop-up out of nowhere. Either way, Aronofsky is a pro at making a dark story even darker just with the right amount of style to give me images that will probably stay in my head for the rest of my life.

It’s not just Aronofsky’s visuals that get this film going, it’s also the sounds and soundtrack done here that really works wonders as well. The soundtrack is done by Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet and every single little piece of music they put in here is as haunting as the last one and it’s one of the very rare times where the songs themselves actually start to build-up and up and up and up along with the actual film itself. The attention to sound is also a big deal here as well because everything sounded so legitimate as if you could hear the pill box poppin’ or the lines being done themselves. This is one of the films that shows how much sound can go a long way, especially if you’re doing a drug film that shows the constant motion people go through, day-in and day-out, when they are on drugs.

Where this film really got me was its message. Yes, it is rather obvious the first time around but once you start thinking about it more and more, and take it into consideration with your own life, then it really hits you. The film talks about how habitual drug use such as pills, cocaine, heroin, etc. will start to disillusion the world you live in and you start to live this imaginary world where almost everything seems to be happening the way you want it, but in reality, it isn’t even close. People in this film start off all happy and high with drugs but then soon start to fall even more and more into the drug world and they start to lose sight of each other and the world they live in. This is very true with real life as I have almost had to go through with some of this myself. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve obviously went through the major shit that these characters go through but drugs came into my life at one point and it really effed me up as well as others around me. Drugs can make you happy, but in the end, drugs always end up doing more harm than good no matter what it may be. Moral of the story is, kids, drugs are bad. Doesn’t get any more simpler than that really.

My only one and main problem with the film was not the film but more of its story. The story is very grim and depressing the whole time but the fact that I couldn’t really feel much for any of these characters, except for the obvious one, was pretty much it. I mean I felt bad for the old lady considering she didn’t know what she was getting herself into with the drugs she was given, other than the fact that she was going to lose some weight, but the others, I couldn’t really feel any sympathy for. I mean they knew what they were getting themselves into right from the moment they did their first “job” and when that all starts to spiral out-of-control and they are basically left with nothing but a couple of hundreds for druggies, I couldn’t feel anything else except for pity. Then again, I don’t think the story is really asking for me to feel anything in the first place so maybe I just wanted somebody to feel for.

I couldn’t go on in this review without mentioning the performance here given by Ellen Burstyn playing that old lady, Sara. This is a very risky role for someone of her age and stature, but she went for it all here and gave one of the memorable performances of the past decade. She’s sad, lonely, troubled, confused, and right when these drugs come into her life, she gets even more crazier by the second and it’s not only sad to watch but also effective as well because there are so many people like her out there in the real world that go through problems as much as she does as well. She definitely deserved that Oscar considering she took a role that I’m guessing not many others went for, and made it her own troubled and depressing character.

Jared Leto has a Brooklyn accent that doesn’t really ring true for me but he actually does very much look the part of the big-time heroin addict that he’s playing here as Harry. Jennifer Connelly play’s his girly-friend and probably has to go through a lot of the more crazier ish that takes over this film within the last act and does a pretty good job with it as I can easily say that I was not that attracted to her as her addiction started going on and on. Let me also not forget to mention that this Marlon Wayans is surprisingly good as Tyrone, and it’s a huge bit of random casting that somehow worked to this guy’s advantage but sad thing was that he didn’t really get much dramatic work after this.

Consensus: Though it’s not for the faint of heart, Requiem for a Dream is an anti-drug film that has a hard-hitting style used by director Darren Aronofsky, a score that will make you terrified, and performances from everyone involved, especially Burstyn, that add so much more to these characters than just a bunch of junkies.

9/10=Full Price!!


  1. This is definitely one of the great films of the 2000s and of all-time. Plus, it’s a great anti-drug film as I’m someone, believe it or not, has never done drugs. I’m too fucked up to even consider doing something that’s going to fuck me up even more.

  2. This is one of those movies I’m not sure that I want to see again despite loving it. The movie just pushes all the right buttons to make you cringe and wince. Such a sad story played out wonderfully in front of the viewers. Great review.

  3. Absolutely brilliant! Great review! Everything is perfect in this film from the visuals to the editing to the performances and the music! so perfect I had trouble getting through it last time I tried. One of the most harrowing pieces of cinema ever!

  4. The first time I tried this movie I couldn’t finish it, it freaked me out too much. Revisited last year and didn’t have that issue at all. Very good movie and like you say Ellen Bursteyn took a risky role, but she pulled it off. Nice review.

  5. I don’t know if this makes me a sick person (haha), but this is one of my favorite films of all time. After I saw it the first time I couldn’t say I enjoyed it but I definitely respected it. Then I saw it again a while later and appreciated it even more. It’s terrifying and haunting, but the level of film-making here and the fact that Aronofsky sugarcoats nothing whatsoever are aspects that deserve the utmost praise. Not to mention Burstyn’s performance, and the best work in the careers of both Leto and Wayans. Nice review, Dan.

  6. While this is a good movie, it’s definitely not one I can watch very often because it’s so gut wrenching. It’s anti-drug messages are certainly powerful, and agreed that the sound editing is fantastic.

  7. Great review. You absolutely can’t write a decent review of Requiem without mentioning that haunting score, it’s one of my absolute favorites. It’s not the best Aronofsky has done–but that’s more of a testament to the director than a knock on the film.

  8. Good review of a great film. I felt all four did very good jobs with their acting. Connelly and Wayans especially impressed me.

    I mentioned this on another blogger’s review of this film: Here’s a morbid conversation starter – which of the four suffered the worst fate for their addiction?

  9. RECOVERED says:


    the Harsh Reality of Drug Addiction

    after 11 months of sobriety from drug addiction, in 7 short days this man hits the depths of despair and insanity

  10. After watching tis movie, I literally couldn’t speak. I just sat there. It was one of the best movies I have ever seen, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch it again. It really is brilliant though.

  11. What does Kenny Powers say on EASTBOUND AND DOWN? “It’s like my life is like REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and I’m sitting front row for the ***-to-*** scene!” Ditto that.

  12. […] “Though it’s not for the faint of heart, Requiem for a Dream is an anti-drug film that has a hard-hitting style used by director Darren Aronofsky, a score that will make you terrified, and performances from everyone involved, especially Burstyn, that add so much more to these characters than just a bunch of junkies.” – Dan the Man’s Movie Reviews […]

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