Requiem for a Dream This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 2, 2013
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Throughout my school career, my health teachers have always told my fellow classmates and me "Don't do drugs kiddos, they're bad for you because they'll ruin your life!" without any proper justification, and proper justification I did not get… until I watched Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream". This powerful film about the realities of drug addiction will leave audiences in tears, sickness, and overall discontentment with their health teachers for failing to back their lessons on drugs with any real evidence.

"Requiem" follows Sara Goldfarb, a widow from Coney Island (played by the fantastic Ellen Burstyn) who has just won a contest to appear on her favorite TV show. Worried about her appearance, she begins to take diet pills so she can fit into her favorite red dress. Soon she becomes addicted to the pills, and slowly she falls into a deep psychosis. Meanwhile, her son Harry (played by Jared Leto), is a heroin addict with big dreams of opening up a store with his girlfriend Marion (played by Jennifer Connelly) while making money with his best friend Tyrone (played by Marlon Wayans). Things begin to fall apart when Harry and Tyrone go on a quest for drugs, and Marion is trying to make some money herself.

As much as one would like to think otherwise, "Requiem" does not have a happy ending by any stretch of the imagination. Harry has his arm amputated due to a serious infection from using dirty heroin needles, Marion becomes a prostitute, Tyrone ends up in prison, and Sara is put in a mental hospital. Of course the audience wants the characters to overcome their addictions and live happily ever after, but seldom does that ever happen in real life, and Aronofsky's conscientiousness to the dark side of drugs -- and graphic depictions thereof-- leaves viewers shaken to their cores. Taking drugs is shown in such a brief frames of blood rushing through veins, pupils dilating, coke being snorted, lighters being lit, all with realistic sound effects.

I'll be brutally honest and say I mainly wanted to watch this film for Jared Leto. However, by the end of the movie, the star who left the most indelible mark on the film was Ellen Burstyn. Of all the characters in "Requiem", Sara's pitfall was the most harrowing and painful to watch. Her insecurities took her down a dangerous path, and her ending left me in tears. Not cute little sniffles, either. I'm talking big, loud, ugly sobs. Sure, Jared Leto gave a very strong performance, but Ellen Burstyn led the pack. In fact, she was nominated for an Oscar for "Requiem", but lost. Damn shame.

Overall, Aronofsky may have made the feel-bad film of the 21st century -- less than a year into it! That's a good thing, though. This film should make people feel bad. It is a horrifying and heartbreaking story about how drug addiction hurts not only you, but the people you love. Tell you what, if someone sees this movie and STILL wants to do drugs thereafter, I simply have no words.

I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good cathartic cry or a reason to steer clear of any hard drugs.

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