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Requiem For A Dream  

Requiem for a Dream is a gripping gritty urban drama that focuses on four people, their dreams and their struggle to keep them alive in the face of various forms of addiction. Harry and Tyrone (Jared Leto and Marlin Wayans) are two heroin addicts in there twenties. They are faced with a future of living score to score and they don't like it. They make plans to buy and resell drugs so that they may buy a key of pure heroin to use and sell and never have to work again. Harry's girlfriend is Marion (Jennifer Connelly). She has a rich father who can give her only money not the love and support that she craves. She has a plan to open a dress shop and sell the dresses that she designed. Harry's mother is Sara (Ellen Burstyn). She gets a call from a TV studio telling her she has won a chance to be on television. She is overjoyed at first. When she finds out that she can't fit into her good dress anymore she begins to diet and eventually take diet pills.

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The plans initially begin to work. Harry and Tyrone have money coming in from their drug sales. Harry and Marion start to look at retail space for her dress shop. Sara begins to lose weight at a rapid speed. Things seem to be falling into place. The film gets interesting when things start to go wrong. An arrest and a gang war leave Harry and Tyrone broke and with no supply of drugs. Sara starts to double and triple up on her diet pills because she hasn't heard from the television station.

Darren Aronofsky has directed a tremendously powerful film. He shows us the depths of drug addiction whether they are legal or illicit can be equally horrific. When the addicts prepare to shoot up or take pills, he uses a quick editing style. In split second cuts we see drugs being prepared, pills containers being open, heroin being injected into the bloodstream pills being popped and pupils dilating and then he returns to addict showing the after effects. This is a tremendously effective and creative way of showing the desperation and anticipation of an addict waiting for his fix. It is also used time and time again to show the repetitiveness and the routine of it. He also adds a lot of touches that evoke sympathy for characters that most people would find unsympathetic. Marion sleeps with an ex lover so she can borrow 2000 dollars to get Harry's drug trade back in action. She leaves the apartment in tears. As soon as she gets to the street she starts to apply eye makeup in a desperate attempt to feel pretty.

The actors all put in top-notch performances. Marlon Wayans is surprisingly good as Tyrone. He is totally convincing as a drug addict. Jared Leto gives a soulful performance as Harry. Yes he is a drug addict but he looks out for his friend, his girlfriend and his mother no matter how bad the situation gets. He cares about them even during the worst of his drug addictions. He also manages to pull of a very credible Brooklyn accent. (I only caught him slip up once). Jennifer Connelly is amazing in this movie. Her metamorphosis from casual user to hardcore addict is frighteningly realistic. I was impressed with her depth as an actress.

The stand out performance in this film is Ellen Burstyn. She is the most innocent of the four characters. Her addiction to diet pills is brought on by her desire to get into a dress she wore at her son's HS graduation. There is a scene where she tells Harry that the reason she is dieting is because wearing the dress on the show would make her feel happy like she felt on his graduation day. That is the last time she remembers the family all together. It melts your heart. When she hits rock bottom and ends up at the TV station wondering when she is going to be on her show it crushes your heart.

Requiem is a phenomenal film. It is dark and disturbing and great performances in it. Darren Aronofsky's visual style matches up perfectly with the films tone and mood. It is not light popcorn entertainment at all but I strongly recommend you see it if you can handle the heavy subject matter. On a scale of 1-10, I give it a 9.

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