I Watched Requiem For A Dream For The First Time, And, Um, I Have Thoughts... And Many Feelings

There are few movies in my life that I have watched and never wanted to watch again, the kind that ruin your afternoon plans and make you realize just how good you have it in life, or make you contemplate your own existence (looking at you, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio). For a while, I had heard that Requiem for a Dream, directed by Darren Aronofsky, was one of those films, so I had actively tried to avoid it. 

I turned 24 in October 2022, though, and I thought to myself recently, “I think it’s time to give this movie a shot,” because I had heard so much about it. And, um, wow, I don’t think I’m ever going to recover from that. 

I’ll get into my thoughts deeper down below, but that movie was something – let’s talk about it. 

Jared Leto in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

The Music In This Is Outstanding 

So, before I get into the heavy stuff of this film, let’s talk about the actual technical aspects first, the things that I feel no one ever gives enough credit for. First things first – the music is outstanding. I’m honestly very shocked that this film wasn’t nominated for Best Score at the Academy Awards that year. 

When I think of some of the best movie music of all time, I often think of scores that really capture the essence of the scene rather than just provide background music. I think of scores from Hans Zimmer, John Williams, even Alexander Ludwig – all of whom have created some of the most iconic movie themes of all time, from the Star Wars franchise to the Harry Potter movies. 

The score, written by Clint Mansell, is highly underrated. Every single scene, the music fit it perfectly, from the slow nature of the beginning of the film to the unadulterated pure chaos that occurred near the end, the usage of sharp notes and quick-paced music – it was just perfect. I seriously wish it was given more praise. 

Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

The Quick-Paced Filming Only Adds To The Experience The Characters Are Going Through 

Something else I also wanted to point out was that the filming itself is amazing. You can really tell that Aronofsky has an eye made for the camera, as the way everything is filmed makes the movie that much more chaotic – but it fits with the theme. 

As the movie goes on, the shots begin to get more drastic, adding to the chaos as more intense things happen, such as Marion when she decides to work for a pimp, or when Harry discovers his arm. The ways in which the scenes are captured only add to the chaos. Everything is shot in such a way where every little moment has meaning. 

While I’m not the hugest fan of Aronofsky's movies, because I feel like most of the time you come out of them either super confused or super sad (like Mother!) I can appreciate his talent for finding the right frame for a scene. It’s truly something. 

Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

Sara’s Story Is So Tragic And So Real At The Same Time 

Alright, let’s get into the story.

There’s a lot here I could talk about in terms of the story of Requiem for a Dream. I’ll be blunt and say yes, it depressed me the whole way through. Watching each of these character’s dreams die slowly throughout the film due to their drug use or affiliation with drugs slowly took away a part of my heart I didn’t think I had. 

Every time I wanted something good to happen, it just wouldn’t, and I suppose that’s where this movie gets its reputation – it’s just sad. It shows the reality of drug usage. 

No story is sadder than Sara’s, and I stand by that. While I did like the story of Harry, Marion, and Tyrone (played by Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans respectively), Sara’s story is truly what made me start to get very emotional towards the end. 

The poor woman just wanted to fit into a dress. She had major self-confidence issues and heard something worked for someone else. Taking drugs is a slippery slope, and she slid right on down the moment she started to see results and the moment the drugs stopped working. 

What made it even worse was how she was treated for her psychotic break, how she was treated like just some crazy person and force-fed food and medicine and given literal electroconvulsive therapy to her head in order to make her better – when all it did was turn her into nothing. She was so happy and full of life when she found out about the chance to be on television. It was so sad. 

Jared Leto in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

This Movie Straight Up Makes Me Never Want To Take Any Drugs

I mean, not to say I ever would. I’d much prefer spending my time watching the funniest romantic comedies and eating pizza with my friends, but if I had ever wanted to take drugs, this is the full-stop movie I would've needed to see – and something everyone needs to see.  

Requiem for a Dream

Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

Check out our review of Requiem for a Dream.

I know it’s a movie and things are usually upped for drama obviously, but the effects of drug use are very real. Seeing Harry get his arm cut off due to an infection from the constant prick marks was something that is vividly pasted into my mind now. I can’t get it out. Even everything else that happened – from Sara being put in a mental hospital to Marion having to turn to sex work to Tyrone getting incarcerated – it’s just the ultimate PSA to tell people not to do drugs. 

This might be a bit of an overreaction, but I swear it made me not even want to take Advil. That’s the effect this movie had on me – I doubt that’s going to stay for too long because one good headache and I will gladly take my regular medicine, but damn, man…it gets under your skin. 

Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream.

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

The Ending Legit Made Me Want To Cry

Yeah…I’m not okay. 

Look, I’m not opposed to sad endings, and I wasn’t really necessarily expecting a super happy one from a movie as infamous as Requiem for a Dream. But it’s the way it ended that really got to me. 

It’s the fact that all four of the main characters have lost so much due to their drug loss, and while others have succumbed to the world they are in, such as Marion embracing her new stash of heroin, and Harry sobbing about losing his arm and that Marion refuses to speak to him, both Sara and Tyrone imagine things that made them happy. Tyrone sees his mother while laying in his prison cell, and Sara still imagines herself at that television show, hugging her son in that red dress. 

That got to me. That made me teary eyed, that there were such different reactions to their lives getting turned upside down, and how some of them still pictured something that brought a semblance of joy into their minds. 

I’ll openly say I’m never going to watch this movie again – because I don’t think I can put myself through that pain, or experience an ending like that once more. I haven’t felt that unsettled since the ending of Mother!. What I can say is that if for some reason someone you know hasn’t seen it, suggest it to them. It’s a dark film, with deep themes, but one that everyone should see just once. 

Stream Requiem for a Dream on Pluto TV.

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.