Requiem for a Dream (2000) Poster

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"Requiem" Is a Heavyweight
Brian Scott Mednick12 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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Awful and Essential
eric22625 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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Like being repeatedly punched in the back of the head by Mike Tyson
Danfish30 January 2002
Warning: 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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Disturbing, Graphic and Great
dropthehammer200012 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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Downer Picturesque.
murkyfish29 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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the summary of a history.
tomduhood26 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 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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Brutal, honest, and a must see movie
tdao36030 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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Absolutely Heartbreaking
Drakkhen8 November 2000
Warning: 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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The film-making quality is secondary- this film makes you FEEL
jewinda18 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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Good Lord!
Rusty-6117 November 2000
Warning: Spoilers
I was tempted to title this "Drugs are bad, mm'kay?" because "Requiem" was so sad I was desperate to inject some humor. Man, what a sad, scary, excellent, grim, disturbing, well-made movie. The more I read about RFAD and learned, the more fascinating it seemed. I'm one of those people who, upon hearing a movie is extremely shocking, has a burning urge to see it as fast as possible to see if it shocks me (especially unrated or NC-17), since I'm pretty jaded. So, I eagerly anticipated seeing it.

Unfortunately, I read so much about the making of the movie that I knew a little too much about the plot going in, so there were few plot surprises. "Requiem" concerns four addicts. Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly play a young loving couple, Harry and Marion, who dabble in heroin and plan to make a big sale with their friend Tyrone (Shawn Wayans) so they can be set for life and Marion can start her own business. Their recreational drug use turns into day-to-day addiction, and things start to get ugly. VERY ugly. Ellen Burstyn plays Harry's mother Sarah, a lonely widow who wants to lose weight to fit into a red dress to appear on her favorite TV show. She starts out addicted to TV and candy, but has the bad luck to visit a doctor who-in what I thought was the only unrealistic aspect-gives her an RX for 'diet pills', that turn out to be speed. I say unrealistic because, as anyone who's ever worked in the medical profession knows, few doctors will write a new patient a huge prescription for extremely powerful, addictive controlled substances without even an exam.

I found her story thread the most memorable and heartbreaking. Sarah takes her pills and starts losing weight, plus suddenly becoming energetic and chatty. Like any addictive drug, her happy blue pills stop working after prolonged use, so she ups her dose more...and more...and things slowly start getting very weird and scary. In one of the best scenes midway through, Harry visits her --the only visit where he doesn't openly steal her TV to pawn for dope. He's briefly riding high (in more ways than one) and announces he bought her a big-screen TV; he wanted to do something nice for her and figured out that "TV is her fix". He looks uneasy when she's babbling happily about how she has a reason to get up in the morning, then he hears her grinding her teeth, and figures it out ...the first time in the movie you see real fear in his eyes. Sarah soon starts having very scary strung-out hallucinations-starting out with subtle things like time woozily slowing down and speeding back up, and when her refrigerator suddenly starts moving on its own, the real nightmare begins. An aggressive fridge may sound Monty Python-esque now, but trust me, you won't be smiling by the end of the movie.

One review I read said that the movie not only pulls the rug out from under you, it drags you and the rug down a long flight of stairs into a very dark basement. Another reviewer compared the experience of watching the film to a drug, and that's not too far off the mark either. Whenever a character gets high, there's a slam-bang fast-cut montage of the same images over and over; a sigh, a pupil dilating, cells changing color. The description I probably agree with most came from Aronofsky himself; he compared the film to a jump from a plane without a parachute, and the movie ends three minutes after you hit the ground. The last few minutes that show the gruesome, depressing, worst-case-scenario fates of all four characters are just as intense, hard to watch, and nightmarish as I heard they were. I don't think I will ever forget Harry's mother's transformation from a harmless, plump, friendly older woman to someone so frightening looking that people cringe away in fear and revulsion at the sight of her.

My only complaints would be that I wished there was more time for character development. The film is divided into 3 segments, Summer (things going fine, having fun getting high) Fall (the beginning of the downhill slide) and Winter (end of the line). I would've liked more scenes of what these people and their lives were like before addiction, as well as their relationships with each other. The cast is stellar- Wayans shows that he has the most range and talent of the Wayans bros- I laughed so hard at him in Don't Be A Menace that I ended up buying it, but here I would've liked to see more of his character. I never liked Leto much before, but he's excellent and also almost unrecognizable (he dropped 1/5 of his weight for the role and oh, it shows). Connelly I actively disliked before, but I was very impressed and now know she can act. Burstyn gives the performance of a lifetime- not only convincing, but dedicated enough to let the filmmakers make her look like absolute and total hell; few actresses over 55 would probably be as fearless.

Not recommended if you're easily shocked, squeamish, or upset. If you only like movies that take you to a happy place, stay away. Everyone who left the movie theater looked like they had just been hit over the head with a very large board, and we all who knew what we were getting into. Recommended for those who want to see a movie that will completely overtake you and involve you emotionally. In addition, this film should be required viewing for everyone in the fashion industry that supported/glorified that whole 'heroin chic' crap. Also a good movie if you are having some problems in your life and want to put them in perspective VERY fast. 9 out of 10 stars. I'll probably never look at my fridge quite the same again...
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Great direction, great acting, great score, great script combine to produce a great film that is depressing but totally gripping even if it will not be to everyone's taste
bob the moo10 October 2004
Harry and Tyrone are drug users who decide to try and make some money by cutting their cocaine and selling it on. This idea works very well and the pair start filling a shoe box with $20 bills – Harry even buys his mother, Sara, a television to make up for all the times that he used to steal her old one to sell it for cash. Sara has her won good news, after years of being an ordinary lonely widow she has the chance to appear on a television show herself and is actively dieting to try and fit into her favourite dress for it. With Harry's girlfriend pregnant but happily high, things take a bad turn when rival dealers start a war and dramatically cut the availability and up the price – forcing Harry and Tyrone to do whatever they can to get not only a fix but a supply to sell. Meanwhile, Sara's desire to lose weight sees her starting a regime of diet pills, morning, noon and night.

I came to this film with not even the slightest idea of what it was about but only that it was supposed to be 'good'. I was not totally prepared for a story that grabbed me from the start and delivered an intense narrative at breakneck pace with great acting, amazingly stylish directing, editing and production. While this onslaught will not be to everyone's tastes, I defy pretty much anyone not to be astonished by this film although I expect many will find it to be a pretty hard ride. The story sees four characters each getting into addiction and having it cause their lives to spiral out of control – and that's pretty much it. However it is not so much the story but the telling because it is the delivery that makes the film as amazing and compelling as it is; I don't want to oversell it but all aspects of this film come together perfectly. The writing is realistic and, although not containing the speeches that make a cast shine, is really well written and never strikes a bum note. The script writes highs and lows of addiction so very well that it is easy to forget that what you see in the film has come from a script and story boards.

Of course without the delivery then this would have struggled but it is blessed not only with good actors giving great performances but also average actors giving great performances. Burstyn is amazing – and I'm not overdoing that; hers is a fearless performance that is totally, totally convincing. Her descent is so tragic and involving that it is a major art of the story instead of the subplot it appeared it would be. Connelly is the next to stick in the mind, conveying a total peace and beauty when things are good but a terrible sweaty look of inner agony on her face as she degrades herself for drugs – an amazing performance. Leto is not someone I'm that aware of but he was good here and held his own well beside the two actresses. However the actual surprise of the film came from Wayans; I'm so used to hating him in lazy performances that I forgot he can act and he is good here – avoiding all the ethnic clichés that he usually does. McDonald is excellent in his cleverly used segments. It is easy to dismiss his performance as cheesy and easy but he does get it spot on (as the extras on the DVD show). Supporting roles for people of the recognisable likes of David, Baker, Weeks and Naidu only help.

Of course the main impact of the film comes from the relentless direction that not only produces a stylish product but also draws the audience into the highs and lows the characters experience as well as the repetitive rituals of their lives. He also handles the hallucinations really well – making them genuinely disturbing when they come have been silly. I cannot describe it very well but the direction really hits the nail on the head with heavy style and different techniques. Of course, some may feel that they have seen elements of it before and will say of Aronofsky that he has borrowed much of what we see – certainly the front mounted camera on the characters harks back to Mean Streets and Spike Lee to name two, while others will look at the reference to Dark City (even though Aronofsky) or claim that the hyper direction is Trainspotting X10! However to accuse him of just stealing is lazy and nonsensical because he weaves it altogether for the whole running time; this is not a rip off or a fluke, this is a talented director spinning style and substance. The score by Mansell and the Kronos Quartet is perfect and is a wonderful compliment to the images, increasing their impact and making the film feel fast and exciting at times, tragic and moving at other times. These are just two examples but the film is technically impressive – whether it be the different cameras, the make up, the editing, the use of mobile stop motion, it is all impressive.

Overall this is an amazing film but it is not one that will appeal to all audiences. It is bleak, relentless and a hard watch but it is worth it because it grabs you and refuses to let you go until the very end. The film has a simple plot but a great script that is delivered by a collection of great performances – in particular from Burstyn and Connelly. The direction only adds to Aronofsky's reputation and the original score is fantastic. I am rarely left breathless by a film but I was by this one and I honestly cannot believe that this escaped me for so many years.
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Punishing and Unforgettable
bshsfo8 April 2002
I respect and admire this movie, even though (and perhaps because) it is complex, occasionally irritating and often very hard to take. Frankly, I avoided seeing it for a long time, but now am glad I did. To complain that the film fails as a realistic portrayal of addiction is, I think, to miss the point. Far from being the mere depiction of a collective downward spiral fueled by drugs, the movie is in fact a meditation on loneliness, greed, corruption, desperation, and the pervasiveness/banality of media, among many other things.

The subtleties of the text are communicated, first and foremost, by superb acting. The performances of Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans are all revelatory. In particular, I was knocked out by Burstyn, who is almost comically pathetic in the beginning, but who manages by the end to convey her character's utter devastation in the truest, most heartbreaking manner imaginable. The others are absolutely perfect as well; I was simply astonished by Leto and especially Wayans (may he eschew "scary movies" forevermore). Connelly has perhaps the most difficult role in the film, with opportunity and motivation galore to go over the top, and she delivers not a single false note throughout.

My only real quibbles with the movie have to do with certain instances of the split-screen and jump-cut techniques, which struck me as somewhat gimmicky and repetitious, respectively. That being said, overall the style of the film is impressive and appropriate. The cinematography is beautifully conceived and executed, and the score is every bit as haunting as the performances (thanks largely to the work of the Kronos Quartet).

In sum, regardless of whether or not the subject matter itself shocks you, this movie will put the viewer through the proverbial wringer. Give it a chance, and you will connect with the characters and then witness their destruction (spiritual and otherwise). It is a punishing but unforgettable experience. I'm not sure whether I'd necessarily recommend it or not; it all depends on your personal tolerance level with regard to an unflinching portrayal of human nature and behavior at their most extreme and, ultimately, tragic. For my part, while I don't expect to watch this film very often in the future, I'm sure glad it'll be on the shelf.
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Killer Performances by Ellen Burstyn...Darren Aronofsky: Stanley Kubrik has called for you to pull up a chair!
j_mrf27 August 2001
Warning: 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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Funk Doctor25 July 2001
Well, I´ve seen "Pi" and was fascinated. Now, there´s "Requiem for a dream" and my expectations were very, very high. That can be the downfall for a movie, but in this case I wasn´t disappointed. Aronofsky proves not only that he can direct a "bigger" movie, he also shows how one can do so without selling out. To be more precise: "RFAD" is one of the most disturbing and depressing movies that came out of the US for a looooong time. From the opening scene to its final curtain it´s...well, a requiem for the characters, who are all perfectly portrayed by their actors. Ellen Burstyn is unbelievable. The power of her performance can only be compared to that of Björk in "Dancer in the dark". Aronofskys direction is even more experimental than in "Pi" and some of his ideas, like his combination of sound and picture are really innovative and give his movie a musical feel -without creating a long music video. On the downside, you could say that this movie offers no hope, no solution - but then, this would´ve been a lousy compromise.
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More of a Nightmare Than a "Dream"
the_talented_one29 May 2001
Warning: Spoilers
‘Disturbing' gets a whole new aspect with Darren Aronofsky's `Requiem for a Dream,' a horrific film about the descending spiral of drug addiction.

Not since Stanley Kubrick's 1971 classic `A Clockwork Orange' has a film made me feel so awkward, until now. `Requiem for a Dream,' Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to his 1998 cult indie `Pi,' is basically the closest thing you are going to find to a nightmare on celluloid. It really accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to disturb us with the downward spiral of drug addiction.

Does the film go far enough to maybe even scare some people straight? Yes! The story focuses on four Brooklyn-raised lives, Harry, played by Jared Leto, Marion, played by Jennifer Connelly, Tyrone, played by Marlon Wayans, and Sarah, played by Ellen Burstyn, in one of her top performances.

Sarah is a lonely, overweight, widowed, daytime television addict whose only perks in life are her television and an occasional visit from her son, Harry (even though he's normally there to pawn her tv for drugs). One day, she finds out that she has been selected to be on television. Determined to lose weight and fit into her precious red dress again, she starts taking three diet pills a day. Before you know it, she's popping them down like M&Ms.

Around the same time, Harry and his best friend, Tyrone, are becoming very successful and prolific with their drug dealing on the Coney Island boardwalk. They begin to score pure coke and frequently get high, fantasizing their own dreams. Also through shooting up, Harry and his girlfriend, Marion, experience their beautiful love for each other, but by Fall, business begins to slow down and things take a turn for the worst.

The film takes place throughout Summer, Fall, and eventually Winter. The characters completely fall apart as do their dreams, loves, and health. The beautiful Ellen Burstyn becomes an emaciated monstrosity with these harrowing nightmares which eventually abolishes her saneness. Harry's inability to score well draws Marion away from him and into giving away her body for drugs. And Tyron's All of this leads to a finale that will send chills up the back of your neck and will refrain you from sleep for at least a week.

Everybody in the film puts on the performances of their careers, especially Marlon Wayans who shows us that, behind the comic idiocy of his `Scary Movie' stereotype, he is really a great actor. Still, even with the three other breathtaking performances, Ellen Burstyn steals the screen with her rendition of Sarah Goldfarb which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nomination and probably should have even earned her the award (sorry, Julia, but it's true). Darren Aronofsky shows us with `Requiem' that he could very well be the next Kubrick. To express the feeling of Hubert Selby, Jr.'s 1971 novel, on which the film is based, Aronofsky uses every filmmaking trick that he knows from split screens, hyper edits, speedy and slow paces, and even his famous snorriecam, which he made famous with `Pi.'

`Requiem for a Dream' is one film that should be shown in high school classrooms across the country to give kids nightmares about their futures with drug addictions. Instead, thanks to the MPAA, it has been rated NC-17 which restricts the age group of people from seeing it who sincerely need to see it the most.

Sure, sometimes it can all seem like too much (I for one could have lived without seeing the shock therapy scene), but it is all necessary to get the film's point across, making `Requiem for a Dream' more like a nightmare. A+ ¦
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Unique, but extreme, preachy, and overrated film
MaverickMind14 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This will likely be the most modest review you'll read of this film in the first few pages of a sea of 10s. I nonetheless, am convinced a 7 is the highest the film deserves. Aronofsky creates a unique film about the horrors of four characters spiraling into a chaotic conclusion due drug addiction. However, his reliance on creating an extreme, hyperbolic film undermines the movie's appeal. The film seems to be an example of pushing the boundaries simply for the sake of pushing boundaries, as no real message. It would be similar to calling a horror movie a 'classic' because the director showed a bloody decapitation after bloody decapitation or a romance movie being considered a 'classic' because it has 1/2 hour of real sex. Nonsense. The best films are the ones that leave the gory or gruesome details to the imagination yet leave you with an extraordinary impact and a message. I really got no message from the film which is heavily focused on torturing four miserable characters again and again....and again and again. What's the point? The four main actors in the film are phenomenal. Marlon Wayans surprisingly gives a stunning break out performance for someone known for starring trivial and mediocre pop culture comedies. He may have given the best or second best performance of the four. Jennifer Connelly gives a credible performance as a desperate and loyal girlfriend forced to do unthinkable sex acts. The actors strengths are their modesty and ability to succumb themselves to the most demeaning things possible.

The music of the film is memorable. The film has one main theme song, but it is the most memorable and haunting theme song ever I've ever heard. I downloaded it immediately after the film. The music emphasized the tone of the film.

The major weakness of the film, despite the great acting, are the characters. There's no bones about it, the characters are pure idiots. The fact that they're idiots leaves me little ability to sympathize with them, and I was trying my hardest. Furthermore, despite other reviewers efforts to paint them as "tragic heroes", the main characters are not heroes in any form. It's even a stretch to suggest that they're good people. For instance, Connelly's character initially seduces an older man simply to get money. Leto's character upsets his mother repeatedly by selling her television set. Yes, they all do this to subdue their addiction.. but the term hero cannot be thrown around aimlessly. They're simply dubious protagonists. Yeah, they try to aim to get out of the drug culture and start prosperous lives. The characters have great chemistry with each other, they are somewhat slightly charismatic, but they don't do anything remotely generous or pious in the film to warrant praise as "tragic heroes."

You can watch this film and immediately see the end coming. Part of you naively and helplessly hopes the film takes a sudden right turn into brighter pastures, but that is simply not the case. Aronofonsky might tease you in the beginning, but he brings you to the most overly dramatic conclusion like a car crashing into a brick wall. Ironically, while many critics bashed 'The Passion' for overemphasizing torture and maiming of Christ again and again and again and again over other aspects of Christ (and rightly so, that film has its flaws as well), it surprising these critics praise similar methods of repetitive "how can it get any worse" torture done to rather shady characters nonstop.

I'm not saying this film needed a happy ending to be a good movie. But if it has a tragic ending, it should have a message. If it's just "don't do drugs", than that's a grave disappointment and waste of time for a supposedly deep experimental film.

To his credit, the director utilizes a neat and impressive artistic style known as "hip hop montage." The surreal spinning directing was a doozy but a great asset to the film.

This film I guess is worth a watch once. But once is only time I've seen it, and I'll never sit through that film all the way through again. Period. I'm pretty confident in saying that most of those "10s" people have only seen it once and will make an excuse not to see it again. The only people who will see this film again are overly depressed and eccentric, pessimistic types.... A classic has to be more than a overly nihilistic novelty act.
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Simply Put This Is A Masterwork
Theo Robertson27 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I vaguely heard a few years ago that the director of PI followed it up by making a film based on a novel featuring drug addicts called REQUIEM FOR A DREAM . It got a couple of good reviews but I couldn't help noticing it took another six years for Darren Aronofsky to make another movie entitled THE FOUNTAIN which was one of the worst pieces of pretentious nonsense I ever watched . Still however the cult of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM grew and grew over the years . It is highly rated amongst the prolific voters on this website and has received almost aggressive praise from some quarters . And yet I had serious doubts to its worth as it was ignored by most award ceremonies and only received a very limited release in cinemas . Certainly I had no real intention of watching it until it appeared on a Sky movie channel . How good was it ? Let me put it like this - 72 hours after seeing it I still can't get it out of my mind

!!!! MILD SPOILERS !!!!!

Aronofsky has made an entirely expressionist film . He expresses in visual form what the characters are feeling . This goes all the way back to almost a hundred years ago to a movement in Germany and since then we see influences in productions as diverse as the BBC serial of QUATERMASS 2 to Harvey Keitel's drunken sequence in MEAN STREETS but I can't think of anything where this technique is better suited than here where the mental as well as the physical disintegration of the characters take place . The technique may put off a potential audience but that's the point , the characters are going through a living nightmare that they will never recover fully from and Aronofsky conveys their misery totally

The director also brings a subtle in joke of semiotics . In THE GODFATHER before someone is killed the colour orange is prominent . In CHILDREN OF MEN someone is peeling an orange before they're killed . It's a subliminal code used in films but one that is familiar to pretentious film students and movie geeks . When the characters enter a drugs den the audience are shown a close up of an orange being peeled and then all hell breaks loose . Expressionism and semiotics in the same movie ? Not necessarily the work of a genius , nor is it the mark of a genius for noticing this but should still be appreciated

One criticism the film has is that it's rabid anti drugs propaganda . Such criticism seems to be missing the point since Sara is addicted to legally prescribed drugs - amphetamine based diet pills and barbiuates . It's not a subtle film but does make subtle points that the amphetamine has almost certainly caused Sara to become schizophrenic . Likewise much of the drug taking and destruction is fuelled entirely by self delusion such as Harry and Marion wanting to open a store funded by the money they made dealing drugs . One criticism that is possibly valid is that there's medical facts that are ignored such as electro convulsive therapy being used on a conscious patient or how limbs are amputated but Aronofsky has rightly ignored these facts in order to make a more shocking film

Make no mistake that this is a truly shocking film . Compared to this TRAINSPOTTING is a cartoon for children and no other film has ever portrayed the misery and danger of drugs so potently . Nine years after its limited release the soundtrack by Clint Mansell has become legend and rightly so . However REQUIEM FOR A DREAM itself deserves to become legendary amongst a mainstream audience . It is quite simply a masterwork and a film that whilst I'm in no hurry to see again due to its harrowing content is a film I will never forget
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Apparently, making sense is optional if you have a split screen.
NestorForjan28 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
It baffles me how Aronofsky has managed to fool audiences and critics to rave about not one but two nonsensical stories in the last few years. If you manage to keep your cool under the barrage of imagery thrown at you from frame one you should be able to spot plot holes in this film so large that they'll make Pi's nonsensical ending look like plausible narrative.

What bothers me most with these, apart from the fact that they make this film essentially pointless, is that they are all there simply to justify some supposedly shocking visuals. I can't help it, I must provide a list.

SPOILER SPACE (you shouldn't care, but it's the rules)

* * * * * *

1. Harry goes to a hospital to get his obviously gangrened arm cured. A doctor spots him as a drug addict and calls the police WITHOUT TENDING TO THE ARM FIRST. The weirdest thing about this is that the poor guy is later sent back to the hospital to have his arm cut off. The good part for Harry is that he should become a rich man in no time, after suing the doctor, the hospital and probably the police.

2. A dealer won't sell heroin for money, but he will trade it for sex. He could hire all the hookers he wants with the money he'd earn selling the heroin, specially considering he's the only provider for the whole city at that time. Still, all he wants is to see some lesbian sex live. Apparently, this is in the movie only to create tension between the lead and his girlfriend. Well, and to show Jennifer Connelly naked.

3. A previously healthy old lady is allowed to degenerate mentally to the point of being confined and given electroshocks without receiving any help, even though she's been shown previously socializing with many other people. For some reason the only person who realizes she's sick is his son, who doesn't care much for her anyway. Not that he does anything about it, either. Strangely enough, there's a shot of her friends waiting in the asylum looking worried while she receives electrical discharges without anesthetics.

4. Even though heroin can be injected practically anywhere, the lead will do it always in the same place. Even when the spot becomes a purulent wound he'll still do it the exact same position. Not an inch above, not in the other arm, not in a leg. Right in the middle of the wound.

* * * * *

END SPOILERS (but there are more of these, believe me)

You know, I wouldn't worry about plot holes that much if the filmmakers had set out to create just a series of disgusting images to show them around. The thing is they didn't. They made an attempt to create something vaguely resembling a storyline, they even had a shot at a subtext. They simply failed miserably. Let's see, this film seems to be about addiction. The points made about addiction in the film are:

a) Many people have addictions of different kinds.

b) Addictions aren't good things.

c) Disgusting things happen when people let their addictions go out of control.

and maybe, just maybe...

d) With addictions at first you'll feel good, but then you'll feel bad.

So much for depth.

But we might also have some character development, right? We could neglect story and subtext and still have strong, compelling characters.

Just we don't.

Even the best of the characters we're shown is one dimensional and flat. Everything the characters are or do is put there to be dismantled later, which makes it all feel like a cardboard building in a Godzilla movie. It's fake and cheap. Everything. The leads' love story, the mother-son relationship, friendship between Harry and Tyrone, and between Sarah and the other women. Nothing feels real because Aronofski only cares about the next cool shot.

This film might get you distracted enough the first time you watch it and make you to believe there's some depth behind that nauseous feeling in your stomach. In the end, it's just empty imagery planned to create a nauseous feeling in your stomach.

If you want imagery go and see the latest summer blockbuster. It might at least be some fun.
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Descending Into Junkie Hell.
nycritic5 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
One of the anti-drug slogans in the 80s was "Just say no," and it was given to us by not just the then First Lady, but by a slew of actors, many of them neck-deep into their own drug-induced binges fueled by too much money and a total lack of advice. If this movie had only come out then. Darren Aronofsky's powerful film REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is that ultimate slogan who never preaches its message: it just allows its presence to slowly filter itself into the images as the four people at the core of this story slowly begin to rot from the inside out as their "dreams" ultimately become replaced by the need to get high.

What begins as just another story of regular people living in relative complacency in Brooklyn, NY, each of them wearing their aspirations on their sleeves -- Sara Goldfarb to go on television; her son Harry and his friend Tyrone to make it big; Harry's girlfriend Marian to become an dress designer in her own right -- starts to go sour almost immediately. Sara, a widow living a lonely life, gets a call (or imagines it as it can be interpreted) that comes as a promise for things to get better: she will be a contestant in her favorite TV show which she watches compulsively as she downs sweets and to get slim for her Big Night she decides to take some "diet pills" to fit into her Red Dress. Harry and Tyrone experiment a little with the drugs they are selling and that leads to more and more and more. Into that web Marian is pulled, maybe out of her own displacement in the world, and since drugs passively target towards the displaced and the unwanted, making it all seem better -- we are informed that she is on the outs with her family even as they have given her full use of the apartment she lives in -- she falls under its spell.

One would think, though, that with drug usage things would change, perception would change. That we see Sara going through the motions not once, twice, but for hours and hours and hours on a stretch as the "diet pills" -- really speed -- take a hold over her is made more frightening when her own body starts cannibalizing itself and her own mind begins to wander. Her own security, her own privacy, literally becomes invaded one night as her own TV -- it in itself a source of addictive promises -- floods her own living room with a nightmarish game show that sends her screaming into the streets, Red Dress in tatters, a hag, still looking for her dream.

That we see relationships crumble -- Marian and Harry eventually become strangers to one another and any promise they will ever see each other again is hollow; Tyrone and Harry's friendship also collapses -- is only secondary to the power of storytelling and to the degrees that these characters descend in their addictions. At times it does seem too cruel to even watch: there is a sequence involving all of the character's final destiny that takes stomach to follow, but if the rot that addiction was still contained up until now, this final sequence -- the climax of the film -- lets all the pus out and sends it relentlessly out into the audience and not once are we let a moment's breath until it's over. There is a final, haunting sequence, one involving all of the characters crawling into a fetal position, destroyed beyond repair, that is heart-rending. These, after all, were once children and were safe (as Tyrone's last vision indicates).

The acting here is beyond all praise and material awards. Ellen Burstyn does what no actress yet has done in film history: push her physicality to extremes to convey an ordinary woman dehumanized by what she innocently thought were diet pills. She is a woman who could be anyone's mother, caught like a rabbit under a drug. All glamor and star ego goes out the window here -- and in doing so she single-handedly assured her Place in what is called being an Actress.

The same can be said with Jennifer Connelly in a role that could have been underwritten (and at times seems so) but in a move similar to Jennifer Jason Leigh she reveals herself so nakedly I'm almost sure her Best Supporting Oscar the following year was one a "consolation" award for being overlooked here. Both Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans come through with their lost yet sympathetic roles, Wayans more so, since we get that glimpse into his past and all he dreams is of being a good son to his Momma.

There is little relief but a painful compassion emerging from seeing REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. The Kronos Quartet and Clint Mansell create an equally tragic score (that has been used in promos for LORD OF THE RINGS), and contains images that already can be considered classic. Some may argue that Aronofsky goes too far with his message, but in doing so he strikes a nerve to anyone who sees this film.
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Reefer Madness for the MTV generation...
majikstl22 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film. This a film addicted to gimmicks. SPLAT! Any questions?

The pretentiously titled REQUIEM FOR A DREAM is a film that is dark, depressing, achingly dreary and laughably awful at every turn. It is like watching a drunk or an addict wallowing in self pity, only to have him interrupt his moaning and groaning with fits of uncontrollable laughter. You don't know whether to pity him, laugh at him or just smile and slowly back away. Nowhere else will you find a film so self-consciously solemn and meticulously constructed, yet so hysterically out of control.

The film is about the evils of addiction, so it is ironic that the director is hopelessly addicted to clichés and gimmicks. One thing for certain is that director Darren Aronofsky seems desperate to impress somebody. He's the kid with the thesaurus who can't turn in a book report unless he makes certain that every word is at least 10 letters long. Only now he's a film school kid who just figured out how to use all those cool gadgets on the camera. As such, REQUIEM is wall-to-wall cinematic tricks: split screens, split-second editing, fisheye images, fast forward, time lapse and oh-so many really nifty-crazy-weird camera angles. It all goes for that Oh-wow! factor. But when every scene is a calculated stunt, then no individual stunt has any effect. It's like an opera screeched in only one note or a room where everything is the same shade of blood red. The overall effect is shockingly effective only because it is all so unrelentingly unpleasant.

The idea, I suppose, is to clue us in on how hyper the world must seem in a drug induced haze, but that is rendered meaningless since the film goes hyper even during innocuous moments. Indeed, what passes for everyday reality is presented as being so melodramatically arty or intensely overwrought that at times Aronofsky has to resort to the overtly ridiculous to even get back our attention. By the time Ellen Burstyn, as a diet pill-addicted old lady, finds herself being terrorized by her refrigerator, the film takes on the air of a particularly grotesque skit from Monty Python.

Even worse than Aronofsky's taste for psychedelic overkill (apparently inspired in equal parts by bad MTV videos, trendy TV commercials and grade-C drug movies of the 60s), is the director's self-righteous arrogance in assuming he has something original to say. Drugs are bad! Gosh, who knew? But even the simple nobility of that sentiment is buried under the sludge of his technique. The fates of the four main characters is so extreme, and so extremely presented, that the film unintentionally trivializes the very lecture it so pompously presents. Their fates -- insanity, mutilation, prison and sexual degradation -- are presented, not with an air of remorse and pity, but as a manic cinematic freak show. This is REEFER MADNESS on LSD; scare tactic propaganda served up as if it were from a crazed evangelist.

I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but the poor actors are forced to overact just to keep up with the hectic pace of the film's stylistics. Lost between their obviously phony Nu Yook accents and bug-eyed emoting, there is little room for genuine characterizations. Indeed, the fact that any semblance of a performances even survives is remarkable considering Aronofsky's veg-a-matic editing style. There are poignant moments, however fleeting, when the actors reveal depth and complexity in their characters, but those instances of subtlety are brushed aside as Aronofsky rushes to get back to the grandiose surrealism.

Can there be anything more personal than an addiction? Yet, Aronofsky has made a film that is frenetic, yet cold and mechanical. This is a film by a filmmaker who has no faith in either his message or his audience. Everything is hammered home, amplified and repeated because the director doesn't think we will get it if he simply states the obvious. Had Aronofsky just made a simple little horror movie, maybe his gross-out/creep-out/freak-out stylistics might have been amusing. But he has tackled a serious social issue and reduced drug abuse to the level of being a Freddie Krueger bogeyman. I don't doubt the sincerity of his anti-drug rant, I just find it hopelessly condescending. It is film-making as shock treatment, designed to beat the viewer down to the point of vulnerability, exhausted and ready for brainwashing.
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Hollywood at its best!!!!!
jon-larsen7 January 2010
Ellen Burstyn blew me away in this film! This is her best role so far!

This movie is about four drug addicts. They all have dreams, but as dependence on drugs is increasing, their dreams are turning into nightmares.

The acting is phenomenal. The story and how Aronofsky tells the story is just fantastic! The music is extraordinary. The cinematography is amazing! The directing is great. I also love how Aronofsky expresses his feelings without words and body language but with camera!

I've almost seen a thousand of movies and no movie has ever affected me like this one!

Even though this movie is amazing, I warn you: This movie will haunt you for several days!

Mr.Aronofsky has done a great job, if you feel sick,depressed or got the feeling that you're not going to touch drugs, after you've seen this movie! The movie is very brutal,tragic and honest. I hope you stay off drugs after you've seen this!

This is a cinematic masterpiece and a fantastic work of art!

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Pretentious and overrated
halfcolombian9 September 2002
I really can't see what's so great about this movie. It was a big disappointment to me. I really tried to like it but I just couldn't. I think after seeing the reviews on here my expectations of the movie was way too high. The first 20-30 minutes of this movie was incredibly boring, I thought that maybe it was just to make us get to know the characters so I gave it some more time. Then after an hour had passed I realized that this wasn't going to get any better. (somehow the same feeling the characters have about their own lives in the movie) It seems like the moviemakers didn't want to make a movie, they wanted to make a masterpiece. It's like the movie is saying "hey look at me, have u seen anything better?!? Look at these cool camera-angles and these amazing close-ups. And I don't only look good I'm deep too." Anyway I don't buy it. Just because you show close-ups of an eye and pills thrown into mouths it's not automatically a great movie. I'm not impressed. Anyway I've noticed that with IMDB the newer the movie is the higher ratings it gets. If you want to see a movie about drugadiction watch "panic in needle park" or the german movie "christiane f" both those movies are far better than this one (and rated lower). I don't hate this movie but I can't for my life understand how so many people can love it. I'm giving this a 1. That might be unfair but it's just as unfair as the 8.5 that it has on here. If I see it again I sure hope I discover something new since it feels like I'm the only one in the world who's not impressed with this. Over 40% voted a 10 for this.
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Over-rated morality tale
Udolpho25 August 2002
The real descent into the quagmire is the last 30 minutes of this film, not the characters within the film. According to this film this is what you can expect from drug abuse: 1. Being force-fed in a public hospital (have these people heard of the IV drip?) and then ECT without any form of anaethesia (every bone in that woman's body would have shattered)- did they take her to a hospital in Eastern Europe?? 2. People with severe septicaemia will be denied hospital treatment and thrown into a cell on suspicion of being a drug addict until they require amputation. Watch and learn - it's fine to be a junkie as long as you don't get caught. 3. A man will be allowed to vomit into food being prepared in a government run correction facility. If you are bad, you eat vomit. OK? 4. A middle class chick will end up on the other end of a black dildo in order to feed her drug habit. Yawn... I mean, this film says more about what kind of overblown morality Americans are willing to accept in films than anything about drug abuse or its consequences. The anti-drug message descends into hyperbole and farce and I found myself laughing hysterically where I was supposed to be shocked and repulsed. Give me a break. These sanitised stories are just too ridiculous. As well as this, we are offered the same old, same old routine of white-powder-imagery and colourful-pill-popping. These guys injected something and were bopping around the place, next minute they snort something and they are all on the nod...go figure? And please, the heavy handedness of the junkie losing an arm...spare me, I am not that easily shocked or unaware of symbolism-overkill.
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mil ceulemans5 July 2001
first off, this movie is a bit repetitive, which is of course on par with the idea of showing people being addicted. (mother likes her chocolates a bit too much first (later on she turns to diet pills), her son and his friends are into harddrugs of various kinds) and all are constantly on the outlook for more of the same kind. the problem with movies about drug-addicts is that however alien their situation may be to a person watching it, the person still needs to feel compassion or have similar feelings towards them in order for the movie to 'succeed'. alas, no such thing here. the main characters (apart from the great acting mother) all look like the lousy but oh so trendy 'actors' you see in commercials or videoclips (there are plenty of references to both, but i can't think of a single one right now that wasn't a cliché or that wouldn't be beaten senselessly by the overall sublimeness of 'magnolia' or the freshness 'trainspotting' had at the time). so, the movie's protagonists are mostly 20+ year olds with nothing on their hands but trying to score and use drugs (and screwing even that simple given up). the characters just don't come alive for me and the obligatory postmodernistic/ nihilistic/ apocalyptic downward spiral which sets in is boring as hell to watch through even though (or just because) the whole thing is cut up much like a flashy videoclip. obviously so to hide the lack of insight on behalf of the makers (though i have to say here i absolutely loved 'Pi', aranofsky's debut which i rate very highly). the crappy finale was partly stolen from kubrick's overrated 'eyes wide shut' and it almost made me laugh because it was so unbelievably unbelievable to see the various plots develop as they did. on a more positive note, the soundtrack is great though, as was Pi's (nevertheless aphex twin would eat mansell any day of the week, kronos quartet or no, but the soundtrack is without a doubt the most intriguing facet to this otherwise one-dimensional fiasco) - go see terry gilliam's 'fear and loathing in las vegas' instead if you want a 'bad trip'. at least gilliam doesn't solely rely on clichés or gimmickry and even when he does, it always shows somehow that he doesn't take himself too seriously or that he uses the right amount of irony / cynicism, something mr aranofsky obviously has yet to master).
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