What Is the Movie "Requiem for a Dream" About?

by Jeremy Cato

The 2000 film "Requiem for a Dream" is the second film by director Darren Aronofsky. It is a drama that focuses on the interactions of four characters and their struggles with various addictions. The film received a positive review from Roger Ebert, who gave the film 3 1/2 stars.


The film has four main characters. Sara Goldfarb, played by Ellen Burstyn, is an aged, shut-in who is spending her golden years watching commercials. Her son is Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), a heroin addict who descends into madness with the help of his girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly) and another friend Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans).

Plot Summary - Part 1

Sara, while sitting at home one morning, receives a call inviting her to come on a game show. After receiving the call, she becomes obsessed with regaining her lost youth and beauty, so she begins taking diet pills and becomes so addicted that she develops psychosis. Meanwhile, her son Harry and his friends hope to make money selling drugs so they can one day open a fashion store. As Sara's drug use escalates, she begins to hallucinate that she is on a game show and that her refrigerator is a monster. Her son and his friends also spiral downward.

Plot Summary - Part 2

Harry tries to get his mother to stop using the diet pills to no avail. After his attempt at saving his mother, he must bail out Tyrone, who was involved in a violent drug feud, using the money that the four addicts had earned. This leaves them without money and without drugs, so the addicts enter into more risky and dangerous activities to get money. Harry develops an infection in his arm from sharing needles, which leads to its amputation. Marion becomes a prostitute to fund her habits. Tyrone lands in jail once more. Sara is placed in a mental institution after she has a breakdown.


"Requiem for a Dream" deals with several themes. The theme of drug addiction and its horrible effects is very prominent throughout the film. The film also presents the theme of unfulfilled goals and unattainable desires as the characters fail to obtain that which they most long for (Sara longing to be young and thin again, Harry and Marion longing for wealth and Tyrone longing to make his mother proud). Lastly, the film touches on the themes of human frailty and helplessness as it ends with a scene of all characters curled into a fetal position, realizing that their lives are ruined.