Our month-long retrospective of Darren Aronofsky would be incomplete without his most intense, harrowing film Requiem for a Dream. Based on Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1978 novel, Requiem for a Dream utilizes Aronofsky’s signature hallucinatory filmmaking technique to explore the world of drug addiction.
Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) is a heroin addict who lives in a circle of dreamers. His best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) wants to escape the ghettos of New York; his girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) dreams of being a fashion designer; and his eldery mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn) wants to be a guest on a morning talk show. Harry and Tyrone decide to set their dreams in motion by selling heroin on the streets, but soon addiction sends the four characters down a nightmare they can’t shake off.
With Requiem for a Dream, Aronofsky balances a tone between gritty realism and surreal fantasy that provides a brutal portrait of the misery of drug dependency and the downward spiral it creates. Uncompromising in its vision, Requiem for a Dream is an important must-see film.
“But as brutal and raw as Requiem For A Dream is, it retains a shattering sense of humanity throughout, resonating with the contrast between the vulnerability of its characters and the cruelty of the world they inhabit.” — Nathan Rabin, AV Club
“Aronofsky brings a new urgency to the drug movie by trying to reproduce, through his subjective camera, how his characters feel, or want to feel, or fear to feel.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times
“Anti-drug movies may come and go, but the images and impact of Requiem for a Dream are hard to shake. Truly one of the most disturbing motion pictures about drug abuse ever committed to celluloid, Requiem for a Dream dispenses with the self-righteous homilies and pious judgments and gets right to the individual emotional core, depicting how characters we like gradually self-destruct. This is achieved with a style and flair not often found in movies of this sort. Once seen, this movie is not easily dismissed or forgotten.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews