Requiem for a Dream

UK release date: Mar 26 2008

cast list

Jared Leto
Ellen Burstyn
Jennifer Connolly

directed by
Darren Aronofsky

Fuck. No, really. Fuck x 10. What can I or anyone say about this film? Some points to note:

1. Listen to the hype.
2. Don’t go in with a full stomach.
3. When watching this film you lose notion of time, place, and reality.
4. If you want to make sure your children never stray within 200 miles of drugs, make them watch this film.


No-one is safe in this adaptation of Hubert J Selby’s novel (he also co-wrote the screenplay). Mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn, whose acting tour-de-force equals that of Bjork’s recent turn in Dancer in the Dark) relishes in the hope of appearing in her favourite TV programme. Her dreams of losing weight to ‘fit in the red dress’ lead to her addiction to diet drugs.

Her only son also has dreams of becoming rich quick to help his junkie girlfriend open up a boutique featuring her fashion designs, and to finance his own addiction to the needle. The performances, including a cameo from Sean Gullette, the star in 28-year-old Darren Aronofsky’s previous film Pi, are riveting.


The cinematography, camera effects and pounding music beat relentlessly between the three main actors, whose dreams and hopes are thwarted by addiction. This film doesn’t give you time to breathe, and is so overpowering that by the end the boundary between fiction and reality – much like for the characters – is blurred beyond recognition.

At the age of only 28, one wonders where Aronofsky will progress from here. When myself and a friend came out of the cinema, the only thing we could utter for minutes was ‘fuck’. Requiem for a Dream is one of the most uncompromising pieces of cinema that the BBFC has ever dared release. Although somewhat depressing, the film is exceptional, riveting, outstanding…. words fail me.

Well, except maybe ‘fuck’.

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