Sara watching televisionHarry and Marion after "pushing off"

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Requiem for a Dream

Requiem for a Dream is a novel written by Hubert Selby, Jr. and first published in 1978. more...

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Selby's novel was adapted into a critically praised motion picture in 2000 directed by Darren Aronofsky, starring Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Jared Leto (Selby has a cameo role as a prison guard). Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2000 for her role.

The disturbing film depicts different forms of addiction leading to imprisonment in a dream world, which is overtaken and devastated by reality.

The soundtrack, frequently described as "eerie" and "haunting", was composed by Clint Mansell and performed by the Kronos Quartet.

The film was originally tagged with an NC-17 rating by the MPAA due to a montage in the film's finale. Aronofsky appealed the rating, claiming that cutting any portion of the film would dilute, if not outright destroy, its message. The appeal was denied, but Artisan decided to release the film unrated.


About the Movie

As in his previous film, π, Aronofsky demonstrates his unique style of movie making with ever repeating rapid cut scenes, which remain a constant element throughout the whole film, the depiction of pain (not violence), the graphic insight into the characters' minds and the opposition of initially different situations, which result in the very same effect.

Requiem for a Dream does belong to the drug movie category —Trainspotting being a somewhat typical example— yet Aronofsky's approach to the theme is less bohemian than in the latter one. Nevertheless, the director refrains from being moralistic or even critical. The consequences of legal and illegal drugs are shown as similarly devastating, and similar cinematic devices are even used to portray Mrs. Goldfarb's television viewing regimen.

One criticism of Requiem for a Dream is in its unrealistic portrayal of drug use, especially as it relates to care given to addicts seeking medical attention. Since it is based on a book from the 1970s, it is also criticized for having an outdated perspective on drug use, medicine, and the treatment of mental illness.


The film tells the stories of mother and son, Sara (Burstyn) and Harry Goldfarb (Leto) and Harry's girlfriend Marion (Connelly) and his friend Tyrone (Wayans).

Sara is an older woman who lives alone in an apartment in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, spending all day in front of her TV set. Her relationship with her son has degraded over the years. This causes her great concern but she cannot share this with anybody else.

When she receives a phone call from a television studio, her life gets a new meaning. She believes to be invited as a guest on a weight loss infomercial. The dream of being popular and sharing her luck with the whole country gets a grip on her existence and conception of reality. To be able to wear her favorite dress on the show, she starts taking weight-loss drugs. Harry later discovers that they contain addictive stimulants (probably amphetamines, or uppers, as Harry calls them), but she dismisses the thought.

Meanwhile, Harry and his friend Tyrone start to earn their money as drug dealers. The profitable business and the drugs seem to be the fulfillment of dreams for Harry and Marion, but when Harry wants to get closer to his mother again, he is concerned about her use of stimulants.

As addiction plays a larger part in the lives of the four it also affects them more and more negatively. As Sara gets addicted to her pills, she starts having hallucinations, then gets a prescription for valium, as well as increasing her diet pill dosage. Soon she loses what grip she had on her life and is eventually hospitalized. The others' dream burst when Tyrone meets the law and the money they saved is spent to keep him out of prison. Marion and Harry lose the close relationship they had as acquisition of drugs dominates their lives. Harry and Tyrone want to break the spiral by taking a trip to Florida, where drugs are supposedly much cheaper. The trip ends in disaster.


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