Hurst Hot Take: Requiem for a Dream

Hannah Brooks, Contributing Writer

***Spoiler Alert***

“Requiem for a Dream,” a 2000 film directed by Darren Aronofsky, is a psychological thriller about the devastation of drug addiction.

Based on the 1978 book by the same name written by Hubert Selby Jr., this movie illustrates drug addiction in a very dramatic and heart-wrenching way. The movie follows its four main characters through their descent: Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), a lonely retired widow who loves nothing more than her television set and troubled son; Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), a simple person who truly loves his girlfriend and mother despite his rampant ad-diction; Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), Harry’s girlfriend who comes from money but has ambitions to open a clothing store one day; and Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans), Harry’s best friend who wants “peace and happiness” and to make his late mother proud of him.

The movie begins with Sara hiding in her closet as her son steals her television set (again) to pawn it for drugs.

Harry and Tyrone take the set to the pawn shop and then get high. Sara goes back to get it from the pawn shop (again), then goes home to watch television. Suddenly, she receives a phone call: she was selected to appear on television!

Though it is nothing more than a scam, Sara does not realize this and very excitedly scrambles to get ready for her appearance, including losing weight so she can fit into her favorite red dress.

She eventually ends up seeing a doctor who prescribes her amphetamines to lose weight.

Meanwhile, Harry and Tyrone are addicted to drugs, which they pay for mostly through petty thefts (such as pawning Harry’s mother’s television set).They suddenly have the idea to not only foot the bill for their ad-dictions, but also “make it big” by selling drugs themselves.

The movie continues as they do well with their new professions and live quite comfortably through the summer.

Harry and Marion come up with a goal of using some of the money to follow her dream of opening a clothing store.

Harry is also very excited about having the ability to buy his mother a brand new television set.

The three seem to be living comfortable lives during the summer, but things suddenly begin to shift along with the seasons once fall comes.

Tyrone is arrested and charged with a crime, which he did not commit. Harry is able to bail him out, but is forced to use a majority of the cash that they made over the summer.

With less money, things become much more strained between the group.

They suddenly find themselves without the necessary money to purchase drugs.

Pushed by her now-desperate boyfriend, Marion goes against her own morals and sleeps with her sleazy therapist for money that Harry and Tyrone can use to buy more drugs.

The drug deal goes wrong, as they end up with no drugs at all, and Marion finds herself infuriated and degraded.

As a last-ditch effort, Harry and Tyrone leave for Florida in hopes of purchasing more drugs.

Meanwhile, Sara continues to lose weight at home, but is dealing with a plethora of side effects as a result of the pills.

She eventually ends up voicing her concerns to the doctor, who simply brushes her off and refills her prescription.

She continues to descend down this hole, having delusions including her refrigerator chasing her through the house and the characters on her television coming out of the screen and walking through her apartment, laughing at the state of it.

Her delusions continue to be-come more and more powerful until she suddenly finds herself roaming the streets in a severe state of confusion trying to find out “when she is supposed to appear on the show.” The movie ends with a tragic, heart-breaking and powerful montage scene that can only be experienced through watching the movie for yourself.

As the spiral continues, we watch as their actions and addictions throughout the movie drag each to their own “rock bottom”, respectively. This film is classified by some as a “psychological thriller” and by others as a “modern-day tragedy”. It truly is both.

While the movie can be seen as dramatic and scary, the sad truth is that it is nothing more than a harsh reality that Aronofsky presents in a very illustrative way.

The events that each character endures in this movie are events that happen to people every day as the drug epidemic continues. I highly recommend watching this movie at least once, if not many times more. It is one of my all-time favorite movies because of the powerful message and portrayal of the message. Alongside the directing skills by the very talented Aronofsky, the acting is absolutely phenomenal, with each actor putting on a stellar portrayal of their characters.

The movie was released in October of 2020 and is an oldie but a goodie as some might say. Be sure to watch the trailer on YouTube before watching the whole movie. But if the trailer is to your liking, be sure to watch the whole movie. It is not on any of the main streaming services, however it can be bought on YouTube or through an HBO Max subscription.