Requiem for a Dream: John Baer
Ty Burr
May 22, 2001 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Requiem for a Dream

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
102 minutes
Limited Release Date
10/06/00
Wide Release Date
10/20/00
performer
Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, Louise Lasser, Chris McDonald, Marlon Wayans
director
Darren Aronofsky
Producers
Artisan Entertainment, Industry Entertainment, Thousand Words, Truth and Soul Pictures
distributor
Artisan Entertainment
author
Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr.
genre
Drama

We gave it an A

No disrespect to queen Julia, but by far, the finest performance by a leading actress in a motion picture released in the year 2000 — the most technically difficult, the most nuanced, the most heartbreakingly human — was that given by Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream. Anyone who has seen the movie knows this. Unfortunately, few people saw the movie.

Well, it’s about drugs. Rather, it’s about our craving for the highs that promise no tomorrow (whether the specific addiction is diet pills, heroin, or daytime television) and the damage that gets wreaked today. Since most of American popular culture is predicated upon extending that bittersweet high, ”Requiem for a Dream” is clearly a must to avoid for anyone scared of having their buzz harshed.

Your loss. Based on Hubert Selby Jr.’s unsparing novel and filmed in a brilliantly kinetic style that director Darren Aronofsky (”Pi”) correctly calls ”hip hop montage,” ”Requiem” follows three sweet young junkies (Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans, all unexpectedly superb) and an aging, speed addicted widow (Burstyn) as they spiral gladly, sadly down through the seasons of one year. The wham bang editing delivers the pleasures of the rush; the quieter moments hint at the love that addicts of every kind devoutly wish for. Wisely left unrated (it would have been branded NC-17), it’s a movie that should be shown in every high school — and every acting class — in the country.

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