Requiem for a Dream (2000)



Critic Consensus: Though the movie may be too intense for some to stomach, the wonderful performances and the bleak imagery are hard to forget.

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Based on the novel by Hubert Selby Jr., this gritty drama concerns four people trapped by their addictions. Harry (Jared Leto), and his best friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) are impoverished heroin addicts living in Coney Island, NY, while Harry's girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) is a fellow addict trying to distance herself from her wealthy father. Harry dreams of scoring a pound of smack, from which he could make enough money to open a clothing boutique with Marion, but so far he and his friends can barely scrape by supporting their own habits. Meanwhile, Harry's mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn), who spends her days watching television, is told she has the opportunity to appear on her favorite game show; wanting to lose enough weight to fit into her favorite red dress, she visits a sleazy doctor who gives her a prescription for amphetamines. Soon Sara has a drug habit of her own that is spiraling out of control. Requiem for a Dream was directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Selby; it was Aronofsky's second feature, following his acclaimed independent film Pi. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
R (for intense depiction of drug addiction, graphic sexuality, strong language and some sexuality)
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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
Chas Mastin
as Lyle Russel
Ajay Naidu
as Mailman
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Critic Reviews for Requiem for a Dream

All Critics (133) | Top Critics (35)

A staccato narrative parallels the experiences and hallucinations of a woman on drugs with those of her son and his friends.

Full Review… | September 20, 2011
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Burnished camerawork and ex-Pop Will Eat Itself head Mansell's part-punchy, part-elegiac score reinforce and counterpoint the increasingly nightmarish visuals.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

[It] may be a bummer to some audiences, so harsh is its view of the drug culture. But no one interested in the power and magic of movies should miss it.

May 8, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

If this is the future of cinema, I'd rather be home watching television.

January 19, 2001
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic

Conveys, visually, sonically and dramatically, the siren call of addiction like no other movie has.

January 19, 2001
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

Both bleak and bleakly funny, appalling in its excesses and exhilarating in its execution.

January 19, 2001
San Jose Mercury News
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Requiem for a Dream


WOW!! What a "don't do drugs" ad! Great acting and the cinematography is GREAT as well as the acting! Even a bigger Jared Leto fan now!

Thomas Johnston
Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer


Ellen Burstyn is great but the this is a long dreary slide into misery, not entertainment.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer


Before seeing this film, and other 'anti-drug' films, I made up my mind and vowed to never do hard drugs (especially heroin). Upon seeing The Basketball Diaries, Trainspotting, and now, this film especially, my pledge was reinforced 10,000 times over. This is based on a novel by co-screenwriter Hubert Selby, Jr. and the loose plot of this uber tragic saga chronicles a lonely widow's growing dependence on amphetamines and a self-help television show, and how it parallels the struggles of her son, his girlfriend, and his best friend, all of whom are junkies. In the case of the trio, even though they use drugs, they are primarily relying on distribution as a means to helping them finance a business they want to open. With the widow, her addictions stem out of a desire to look pretty and slim when she finds out she'll be on her favorite television program. This film is extremely painful to watch, but damn-near impossible to avert one's eyes from. It's extremely intense, harrowing, and the best depiction of the true, unflinching, and hellish effects of the grips of drug addiction that I've ever seen,. The whole controversy over why the censored version exists is stupid, because a film like this doesn't need to be censored, because the message of the film is (slightly) tarnished. The R-rated 'edited' version is slightly cut, but cut nevertheless. The audience still gets the point, but that's still not an excuse to unflinchingly and graphically depict how much ruin drugs cause. Not watching this film (any version, but especially the unrated) is an unforgivable crime. I'll admit that the film is light on character development and plot, but what really makes sells this film are the strong performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, the latter being a nice surprise. There's also supporting appearances from Christopher McDonald, Louise Lasser, Keith David, and Dylan Baker. Another reason this film is so successful, influential, and important are the strong direction from Darren Aronofsky, and the sharp editing, and of course, the cinematography, complete with lots of snorricam, fast and slo-motion, various types of lenses, filters, and numerous montages. There's also that really memorable, and now oft-used music from Clint Mansell with support from the Kronos Quartet. Okay, so yeah, I've praised this film a lot. I'll admit though that it's not perfect. Even with the uncut version, this film is such a downer you don't want to watch it often. I think it would be possible to do that, but who would want to? This is probably one of the most tragic films I've ever seen. And, while I can appreciate how the film really puts you in the mindset of someone in the hazy and frenzied grips of addiction, it's also rather pretentious, fairly repetitive, and rather jarring with how unsubtle it is. In the end though, I gotta go with my gut and say that, despite my gripes, and the fact that this film is already praised enough, it really is a gem, and a damn important one.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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