Requiem for a Dream (2000) Review

"Anyway, I'm not really hooked..."
-Marion Silver

Requiem for a Dream follows the story of four people as they deal with drug addiction.  Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and his best friend, Tyrone Love (Marlon Wayans), start selling heroin so they can make something of themselves and help Harry's girlfriend, Marion Silver (Jennifer Connely), open a dress shop, but all three become addicted to heroin themselves and their lives spiral out of control.  At the same time, Harry's mother, Sara (Ellen Burstyn), starts a diet, but when she discovers she doesn't have the will-power to stick with it, she sees a doctor who gives her weight-loss amphetamines, but Sara quickly starts to abuse them and her life starts to parallel that of her son's.

What Works:

This film should be shown in every high school health class.  Requiem for a Dream is a far more effective way to prevent drug use than D. A. R. E. will ever be.  The way this film is shot and edited along with the graphicness of the subject manner made me nauseous.   I was getting hungry when I started the film, but by the end food was the last thing I wanted.  The movie does a great job of bringing us into the world of these characters, but it's not a world we want to be in.

The technical aspects of the film are phenomenal.  The cinematography is stunning and the editing reminds me of a messed-up version of Shaun of the Dead.  It's an impressive feat of filmmaking on a technical level.

The performances are fantastic all around.  I wasn't sure about Jared Leto and Marlon Wayans in their roles when the movie started.  I was pretty skeptical about how good they were going to be, but I was blown away.  They both kill it and it's pretty agonizing to watch what happens to them.  I have a few issues with Jennifer Connelly's character, but I have nothing but praise for her performance.  She's the least likable of the four characters, but by the end you just feel awful for her.

Best of all is Ellen Burstyn and she was totally deserving of being nominated for Best Actress.  She is by far the most likable of the leads and her performance is phenomenal.  He character is not a typical drug addict.  Her arc is utterly heartbreaking and the most brutal to sit through.  Her performance is so good that it's hard to watch.

What Sucks:

Apart from being incredibly difficult to sit through, I only have one complaint with this film.  The characters in this movie aren't that likable, which is totally fine, they aren't supposed to be, but three of them have a layer to them that lets you know they are not totally bad people.  Harry tries to get his Mom to stop taking drugs, Sara just wants some love and attention she hasn't had in years, and Tyrone just wants to make his Mom proud.  Sara and Tyrone both have solid motivations and we get to see that Harry does have the capacity to care about other people.  We never really get that from Marion.  The other characters have at least one mildly positive aspect of themselves, but Marion's only interactions in the film are with Harry, which are mostly negative interactions, and the scumbags at the end of the film.  If we could have had one scene that made Marion a little more likable or relatable early in the film, I think it would have helped.


Requiem for a Dream is the best movie I will never watch again.  The performances are fantastic and the technical aspects are impressive, but the film is so graphic, disturbing, and able to bring you into the world of these characters that it's difficult to watch.  I felt sick to my stomach and struggled to get through the film.  I don't think I could do that to myself again.  While I do think Marion's character could have been improved, I do think this is a movie that everyone should watch once.

 9/10: Great 


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