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Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) is a retired widow, living in a small apartment. She spends most of her time watching TV, especially a particular self-help show. She has delusions of rising above her current dull existence by being a guest on that show. Her son, Harry (Jared Leto) is a junkie but along with his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans) has visions of making it big by becoming a drug dealer. Harry's girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) could be fashion designer or artist but is swept along in Harry's drug-centric world. Meanwhile Sara has developed an addiction of her own. She desperately wants to lose weight and so goes on a crash course involving popping pills, pills which turn out to be very addictive and harmful to her mental state. Written by
Darren Aronofsky initially wanted the three main heroin addicts featured in the film (Harry, Marion, and Tyrone) to be much younger than they were in Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel and screenplay. Aronofsky felt that changing the principal characters' ages to around 14 to 16 would further demonstrate the devastating impact of drugs and lead to a greater emotional reaction from the audience. Selby agreed with the director, however the film's producers felt that American audiences would find the film too horrific if young teenagers were to experience such awful events. Selby and Aronofsky lobbied for the characters to be made younger, but producers argued that the film could not be shown in theaters if the protagonists were made out to be teens. Selby acquiesced to the point, but Aronofsky only reluctantly agreed to continue the project with the older characters. See more »
(at around 1h 10 mins) Sara is in her apartment wearing her red dress, creeping around trying to avoid her refrigerator, popping her pills and watching herself appear all dressed up on Tappy's show. There is a pot on the stove and her vacuum cleaner in front of the stove. At different cuts in the same scenes, the stove is alternately clean or has pots and items on it, and the vacuum cleaner is there or missing, or changes position. (It is possible that some of these changes occur because Sara is hallucinating.) See more »
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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