A Summary and Review of Requiem for a Dream

A Summary and Review of Requiem for a Dream

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  1. Requiem for a Dream (2000) is a harrowing tale of addiction and deterioration.  Based on the novel by Hubert Selby, Jr., the story follows the downward spiral of four main characters, Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans), who each find themselves in the throes of their respective addictions.  The film did not win any awards, but Burstyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.

     

    Harry and Tyrone, heroin addicts with very little money and no jobs, are throughout the entire film in constant pursuit of their next fix and scoring enough heroin to quit the drug and open their own business.  Marion, Harry’s girlfriend, falls into the same heroin trap and ultimately finds herself dependent on not only her boyfriend but also the drug.  As a result of their addictions, these three friends become pulled apart and separated.  While Harry promises to return to Marion, he ends up hospitalized for a deeply infected arm from shooting up so frequently, and Marion, in need of a fix, resorts to the unthinkable to score some more smack.  Simultaneously, Harry’s mother is experiencing her own form of addiction.  Driven and crazed by her infatuation with the possibility of being on her favorite television show, Sara becomes more and more obsessed with the notion of becoming thin enough to fit into a certain red dress from her past.  As she pops more and more pills and eats fewer and fewer meals, she begins her own descent into madness, complete with terrifying hallucinations, inexorable paranoia, and fleeting, delusional thoughts.  Sara, alone and famished, loses her grasp on reality and ends up receiving electroshock therapy.  The climactic moment of the movie demonstrates the final state of each of these four main characters, leaving the viewer shocked and disturbed and shaken all at the same time.

     

    Requiem for a Dream is known for its powerful plotline, dark cinematography, and artistic style.  In order to capture the essence of the storyline, director Darren Aronofsky chose to use a series of long screenshots, time-lapse photography, and short, quick, pulsating shots to demonstrate the tumultous nature of the slowing and speeding up of time as induced by the nature of the addictions.  The choice to direct the film in such a way reflects the juxtaposition of the waves of tranquility and mania associated with heroin usage, and ultimately, what it looks like to have your life be entirely broken.  While a painful and difficult film to watch for many people, this is a truly incredible depiction of the throes of addiction and the loss and descent into madness that inevitably accompanies it.  While you may not look back on the film fondly per se, you’ll also find yourself unable to ever forget it.

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