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Requiem for a Dream
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Reviews & Ratings for
Requiem for a Dream More at IMDbPro »

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1256 out of 1414 people found the following review useful:

Awful and Essential

Author: eric226 from Seattle USA
25 November 2002

I'm not going to waste space with a synopsis, as every second or third review provides one. A good indication of a challenging and original film is the number of 1/10 and 10/10 reviews, where the 1/10 reviews consist of just a few lines. A pretty sure sign that those folks weren't able or willing to watch with an open mind. Which is a good sign for casual viewers to give this film a wide berth.

I wish everyone I care about would see Requiem for a Dream. Not because they will like it, or that it will teach them something they did not already know, but that it's a rare piece of work that will challenge and probably change them. It's a film that has never been made before, with nothing to compare to it - a rarity these days. I often find myself recommending films to people that I am unable to briefly describe. These are usually the most involving and affecting ones. I'd like my family to see this, but can't *recommend* it to them. I've recommended it to two friends, and they both had the same reaction: I am glad I watched it, but I doubt I'll be in the frame of mind to watch it again, knowing what you feel.

As I sat watching the credits roll, I began crying, but I'm still not sure why. Partly in reaction to the devastatingly tragic ending, partly the beauty (yes) of the film, partly my gratitude for good things in my life. I watched it again the same night with my girlfriend, not because I wanted to upset her, but I felt that I had to share it. After the credits rolled, we both were silent for a good ten minutes. I found that I had thoughts I wanted to express, but could find no words. This is one of the few films that are painful to experience, but I feel compelled to share with people I care about. Some others in that short list include The Thin Red Line, Happiness, River's Edge,and The Deer Hunter.

These films all share a quality that's difficult to name. No one likes feeling disturbed or shattered by a film, a work of art, a piece of music, but I feel experiencing these emotions and being asked to think, not just be entertained, is important now and then.

"Favorite" does not apply to this for me - this isn't about entertainment. One of the most devastating and beautiful experiences I've had watching a film. One of the top five films I've ever seen.

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656 out of 722 people found the following review useful:

"Requiem" Is a Heavyweight

9/10
Author: Brian Scott Mednick (brian.mednick@newline.com) from New York, NY
12 February 2001

You will not so much as want to take a sip of wine after watching this mesmerizing film about the horrors of drug addiction. I was not a fan of director Darren Aronofsky's debut film "Pi," but with this movie he proves to be a filmmaker of unlimited vision and style. Four characters in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn are all driven to despair due to their drug abuse, the saddest being Ellen Burstyn as a nice Jewish widow who unwittingly becomes addicted to prescription diet pills that help her lose weight but drag her into a world of hallucinations and paranoia. Burstyn is superb. It is so refreshing to see such a great veteran like her in such a challenging leading role, one in which she goes through a hell worse than that in "The Exorcist."

But this is a director's film if there ever was one. Aronofsky knows how to tell a story in a way that is dazzling in its use of sound, editing, and cinematography. The score by the Kronos Quartet and Clint Mansell is the most striking movie music I have heard in a very long time.

"Requiem for a Dream" is not a movie for everyone. It is the essence of independent filmmaking, a daring, engrossing, artful film that stays with you long after you leave the theater. Hollywood bubblegum this ain't.

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604 out of 707 people found the following review useful:

Brutal, honest, and a must see movie

10/10
Author: tdao360 from Los Angeles, CA
30 July 2001

This ranks up there as one of the three most powerful movies I have ever seen in my lifetime (Full Metal Jacket and Grave of The Fireflies being the other two). This movie shows the brutal honest side of addiction and over-indulgence. Not just drugs, although it heavily shows drug addiction. Also shows how one addiction can lead to another and how damaging it can be for you. I watched this alone, and felt so stunned afterwards, I had to call a friend just to calm my nerves. Seriously, this is a brutal (one more time) BRUTAL film. The acting is wonderful - Ellyn Burnstyn and Jenniffer Connely are just wonderful in this movie, and Marlon Wayons was such a shocker in a serious role. Everyone must watch it, for it's entertainment value, and more importantly, it's educational value. But it leaves chills down your spine for it's honesty and unforgiving lessons.

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548 out of 664 people found the following review useful:

The film-making quality is secondary- this film makes you FEEL

Author: jewinda from Bendigo, Australia
18 June 2001

Often hype about films lead to disappointment and after waiting 14 months after release for my local cinema to show this film, I was done thinking about it. Thank goodness too, rather than challenge my brain (not hard to do unfortunately) this film went straight for the heart, ripped it out and kicked it around the floor for 90 minutes. As the addictions plunged further into the depths of Hell, I felt myself more and more arrested by the film. I've never left a film shaking or feeling physically ill- not including Pearl Harbour, of course :) You want to look away, but cannot.

This movie is by no means flawless, but then again I would like to hope that the flaws add to the gritty reality of the film. The ending was truly the most frightening thing I have ever seen in film- forget the cheap scares of The Exorcist, Psycho and the endless bile of the 'slasher flick', this stuff is REAL.

In a country amid a 'war against drugs' this is a powerful film which could do more to turn kids away from drugs than any measly government "task-force" or classroom lecture.

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382 out of 426 people found the following review useful:

Like being repeatedly punched in the back of the head by Mike Tyson

10/10
Author: Danfish from Swansea, Wales
30 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

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.

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383 out of 439 people found the following review useful:

Downer Picturesque.

10/10
Author: murkyfish (murkyfish@ekno.com) from Victoria, Australia
29 March 2001

I just saw Requiem For A Dream and I have to say, I was blown away. Not since 1995's The Basketball Diaries, has a film so accurately portrayed the craving and depravity of a person dealing with(or succumbing to) addiction. It is a beautifully articulated piece of artwork, intricately presented on a silver platter. Director Darren Aronofsky shines in his brilliant direction and style, in this depiction of the downward spiral of the lives of four people, living with their respective addictions.

Jared Leto, gives an excellent, solid performance as Harry Goldfarb, a man living an inch from his life, always in search of a fix. In an emotional powerhouse of a performance, he proves to audiences that he can shine through in a major role as opposed to previous smaller roles in Fight Club and American Psycho. However, it appears to be a Hollywood in-joke of sorts in that it seems he has a penchant for mutilation or at least the roles he seems to take on seem to have for him. In Fight Club, he had his face rearranged and in American Psycho, his head cut off. In Requiem however, it is the mutilation of his life, his whole character, that takes centerstage, ending in a satisfying climax of gargantuan proportions in which he gives the audience more than their money's worth in his power-packed performance.

However, the real star of the film lies in the talent of Ellen Burstyn. Audiences will wonder at her appearance at the beginning of the film, not really knowing if it is, in fact, her. Her performance as a television, sugar and eventually, diet pill-addicted mother of Harry shows that she's still got it after all these years. If you want to make a comparison of her thespian skills throughout the years, watch the revived version of The Exorcist. She can only get better. She takes on the role of Sarah Goldfarb with gusto, never backing down for a second. Totally throwing herself into the role, you tend to forget how she really looks like, given only fleeting moments in the film which suggest her real appearance. I have to say, she's got guts. How many female actresses her age would dare to have a camera strapped to her person(as Aronofsky so creatively did), an inch away from her face with a wide angle lens? She definately deserves her Oscar nomination, if not, the Oscar itself, for her tour-de-force performance.

The other characters themselves hold their own with the two abovementioned powerhouses. Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans both realistically portray their respective roles as Marion Silver, Harry's girlfriend and rebellious suburbanite chick, who degenerates to prostitution for her fix and Tyrone C. Love, Harry's best friend and fellow pusher. Here, Wayans shows that he can lose his comic edge if needed, to portray a boy trapped in a man's body, just yearning for his mother's approval but seeking it instead, in drugs. Connelly as well, who has been taking on smaller roles and projects over the last few years, is finally given enough room to play with her character and gives a winning performance in Requiem.

The cinematography of Matthew Libatique gives total light on the chracterizations of the people in habiting Aronofsky's sick world, from the sliently flickering sick-green flourescents to the exaggerated wide angle shots and the beautifully sad and haunting Coney Island picturesque of the pier which suggests a certain beauty amidst all the sadness and depravity. A Downer Picturesque, as portrayed by the photographs of Robert Frank and the Frank influenced cinematography of Darius Khondji in Seven. In my books, Matthew Libatique has just joined those ranks.

Jay Rabinowitz' editing stands out as well, with in-your-face smash title cards(emphasising the downward crash of the character's lives through the seasons), as well as the close-up constructions of the drug taking process. The latter sequences, edited so tightly and seamlessly, make the moment so beautiful but so fleeting, as is the case with drugs. The sequences are almost like a drug, making you crave for more of them, a fix which you get, whenever the characters get their own fix in the film. Lots of people might misinterpret this as glamourising the drug culture but these moments are so fleeting that they're over before you even know it, and then it's back to Harry, Marion, Sarah and Tyrone's sick and depraved search for the next fix, which very accurately portrays the twisted quest of a true and sincere addiction.

The film is also superbly scored by Clint Mansell and hauntingly performed by the Kronos Quartet. A series of hauntingly shocking, yet mind-numbingly beautiful pieces which linger in your head long after you've left the cinema.

Lastly, the direction of Aronofsky, brilliant, beautiful, empathic. There are not enough words to describe his direction or this film and I think the best way to say it is that I am speechless. Aronofsky has shown me that, jaded by so many films, something can still prompt me to sit up and take notice. To see something that I have never seen before or learn something I don't already know. The ending, is sheer power. A masterpiece of all the elements of what filmmaking is about, mixed together in some sick souffle and thrown into your face, burning hot and scalding. The film leaves a deep impression, in fact, a huge scar. And it is a scar I am proud to wear.

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335 out of 378 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing, Graphic and Great

Author: (dropthehammer2000@hotmail.com) from Seattle, Wa USA
12 November 2000

I went to this movie hearing plenty of buzz about how graphic the content was. Over the course of the movie you see just how Aronofsky wants to send his message to the audience. The characters start off with somewhat mild addictions and then next thing you know the four main characters are living in hell. I couldn't believe how low they all fell. This movie may be the greatest anti-drug message of all time. I dare anybody to watch this and to not be touched and frightened by these characters. Before the movie started I noticed the audience was quite loud and garrulous, but as it ended and the credits rolled the whole place was stone cold silent. It was amazing.

As a whole I felt the movie was excellent. The visuals were well done and the editing was outstanding. The actors really put themselves into their roles. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly had very good chemistry, while Marlon Wayans showed he is a talented actor and not just a talented comic. Ellen Burstyn. Wow! She was amazing. I can't believe an older woman would allow herself to be filmed like that. She has some serious guts. Hands down the best female performance I've watched this year, not even close. I was totally amazed by her.

All in all, I would say Requiem For a Dream is a great movie. It had a profound impact on me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I watched it on opening night. I definitely recommend this movie to anyone. This is a movie everyone should see, but unfortunately not enough will.

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320 out of 365 people found the following review useful:

the summary of a history.

Author: tomduhood from florida
26 July 2004

being someone who had a history with drugs, i found this movie to be slightly more than ground-breaking. i saw this film in the midst of a downward spiral, and it turned me right around! having friends with the same plans, such as sell drugs to buy more drugs..it made me look at my life and theirs and see exactly what the future had in store.

now, every time i see this movie since escaping that life, i cry. i cry for my past and those who still live in it. this movie has more to say to people my age than any drug education movie we were afforded in school. honestly, i wonder when the school systems will wisen up to what is really going to get kid's attention; movies that show that pros as well as the cons of drugs, or a movie that shows the complete and utter devastation drugs will bring to your life, and the lives of those around you. honestly, had i seen this film before my sophomore year of high school, i would have never even dreamed of taking more than the prescribed dose of advil.

granted, my little summary or comment of this movie does not entail anything informative about the movie itself, i must say, i feel this is the best way i know to express my views.

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268 out of 305 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Heartbreaking

10/10
Author: Larry Yuan (lyuan@look.ca) from Toronto, Canada
8 November 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I had been looking forward to Aronofsky's follow-up to his critically acclaimed art-house film, Pi, of a few years back and when it did finally open in 1 theatre in Toronto, I gathered a bunch of friends to go down and see it. Some have never even heard of Pi before. For others, this would be their first Independent film experience. However, coming out of the movie, we all agreed that it was one of most powerful piece of contemporary cinema that anyone has seen.

"Requiem for a Dream" tells the story of 4 people, connected either through blood or some kind of personal relationship, whether it be family, girlfriend, or business partner. Although the characters lived far from what you and I would consider to be normal lifestyles, they shared something in common with each and every member of the audience; hopes, aspirations, dreams. Sara Goldfarb (played so wonderfully by Ellen Burstyn) dreams of one day being on a TV show, and one day, gets her chance. She fantasizes about how she could wear her favourite red dress, that she wore to her sun's graduation, on television. However, upon trying to wear the red dress, Sara discovers that she has gained some weight over the years and tries desperately to lose her weight, eventually resorting to medication. All of the characters have drugs (the bad kind) affect their lives, which eventually take over their lives. The movie documents how for each of the 4 people are effected and eroded by drugs.

The look of the film is extremely stylized, but justifiably so. Aronofsky uses surreal imagery as a vehicle for realism, something that really works when done well, and done well it was. By using a combination of slow and fast motion shots, extreme close-ups and more edits than you can shake a stick at, Aronofsky successfully brings the audience into the world and mind of someone with a drug problem. The audience visually experiences first-hand what it is like to be 'scared' or 'high' - all this in 3rd person; all this in the comfort of the theatre chair.

Of course, all of this effort would be in vain if it didn't mean anything at the end. The film leads the audience down a spiral of addiction until the grand finale, which features a montage of graphically intense scenes and images with more edits per second than any film. The pacing at the end, when compared to earlier parts of the movie, was so fast I started to find it hard to keep up, and literally took my breath away as the credits came up. All in all, the effect was amazing, and something that I have not personally experienced when watching any film before.

As the title indicates, "Requiem for a Dream" does not contain a happy ending. It is in no way optimistic, and only gives the audience faint pieces of hope and happiness. However, It does show what desperate people are willing to do, and how desperation will change someone's life to its entirety. It is in the recognition of desperation where hope lies.

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273 out of 347 people found the following review useful:

Killer Performances by Ellen Burstyn...Darren Aronofsky: Stanley Kubrik has called for you to pull up a chair!

10/10
Author: j_mrf from New York City
27 August 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oh my, where shall I begin? Experimental film making bursts into mainstream in this dramatic tail of 4 people who find themselves spiraling down the abyss, after experiencing a rendez-vous with the inevitable consequences attributed to drug use and the ill effect it has on its addicts. This one has no happy ending. There's no sugar coating here. Albeit this film packs a harsh, blunt, and sometimes overwhelmingly genuine depiction of the havoc drug addiction can reap on its victims. Despite the disturbing message of the film, I never the less couldn't help but remain fascinated with it's experimental/avant-guard visual style: A smooth, elaborate and languid progression of cinematic eye candy orchestrated to almost resemble a shockumentary, complemented by an impressive and well composed soundtrack. Some of the visual techniques were similar to the ones Aronofsky used in his directorial debut "Pi", such as split-screen shots and the use of body cameras filmed at varying speeds. At times, the film seemed more like an acid trip than a feature film. A cry for help is clearly felt throughout the film, from its innocent and promising start, to its hauntingly chilling conclusion. The one scene that really blew me away was the scene where Marion (played by Jennifer Connelley) had just sold her body off for a bag of heroin...As she walks out the door of the apartment, along the corridor, into the elevator, down to the street: one can't help but feel the characters disgust with herself, filthy to the core, what it must feel like at..."ZERO". The acting performances, especially by both Ellyn Burstyn and Marlon Wayans are simply breakthrough performances that earned critical acclaim across the board. Enough said. If this review alone does not compel you to experience the Film, I will just have to spell it out: PLEASE EXPERIENCE THIS FILM - it may cause an uneasy stomach, but is well worth it - YOU WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!!! 11 out of 10.

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