Best of TIFF Reunions: Requiem for a Dream

Twenty years ago this film brought us Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Darren Aronofsky. While all had worked before this was the film which showed the breadth of their talents. Especially Connelly and Leto. They could have really just settled for a career in which they cashed in on their looks, but here showed themselves to be true actors in that they were willing to do out of the ordinary stuff.

TIFF is bringing back films which screened previously at TIFF and then went on to some success. You can watch the film then also check out the discussion on Sunday, September 13 at 3:30 p.m. by several people involved in the making of Requiem for a Dream including director Darren Aronofsky, actress Ellen Burstyn, director of photography Matthew Libatique, composer Clint Mansell, and production designer James Chinlund.

The film can be viewed on Bell Digital Cinema September 10–19, or you can tune in to TIFF’s Facebook and Twitter for the free livestream on September 13 at 3:30pm. For those in Canada, you can stream the film on Crave.

Though all aspects of the film are excellent from story to cinematography to directing it is the acting which holds the whole thing together. The three leads are amazing. Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly and Ellen Burstyn are all amazing in their own ways. Especially Connelly, who had to film one of the hardest scenes which I have ever watched. All turn in very realistic portrayals of people caught in the clutches of drug addictions. Each is different and nuanced. Never hammy or overacting.

The whole thing is based on a book by Hubert Selby Jr. The story brings you on a tortured voyage through the hell that is drug addiction. At times while watching Darren Aronofsky’s (mother!, The Wrestler) film you might feel like you are on drugs. Your senses and mind will be completely overwhelmed for long stretches. Harrowing and heartbreaking.

Living in her small apartment, retired widow Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn – The Exorcist, The Last Picture Show) spends most of her time watching television. With her favourite show being a self-help style game show which she dreams of being on. Wrapped up in this dream she has developed a drug addiction of her own – to pills which she believes will help her lose weight. The pill she is on alters her reality and Sara begins to act very strangely.

Her son is a drug addict named Harry (Jared Leto – The Thin Red Line, Suicide Squad), who will do anything to get money to buy drugs including selling his mom’s beloved television set. Harry and his friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans – White Chicks, Scary Movie), who both have dreams of riches, come up with a plan on how to make plenty of money by dealing. Of course, the two manage to start off well then screw things up and have to scramble to fix things….if they can.

Despite the fact that she has the talent to become a fashion designer, Harry’s girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly – The Rocketeer, House of Sand and Fog) has got caught up in drugs as well. So much so that when Harry is not around for any period of time she loses it. When Harry has to be admitted to the hospital due to an infected needle site on his arm, Marion loses her mind a little and is out of money for drugs. This leads her to do something incredibly desperate to get the fix she needs.

Talk about going through the wringer with the characters. If there has ever been a film which would be a warning about drug addiction this is it.

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