I'd sound ignorant if I claimed that the answer to the heroin epidemic would be to sit young people down and show them a film, but I really do think a few lives could be saved by showing Requiem for a Dream in high schools.
I first saw this when I was in college and I'd never seen anything like it before (still haven't, actually.) Not only is it chock-full of amazing performances (Ellen Burstyn's "I'm alone" monologue... Jesus), but it shows the power of editing and music in film.
I'm a sucker for scenes that happen in one long, continuous take (more of those to come). I like to see actors actually acting, being forced to perform the scene like a play. Here is the complete opposite. The amount of work that must have gone into editing and scoring this film is mind-blowing.
Darren Aronofsky really never lets us off the hook from beginning to end. The extreme closeup of dilated pupils, needles going into arms (then the infected one at the end... FUCK), the haunting sounds of euphoric exhales after a fix -- it's all sensory overload.
The climactic scene shows all the characters hitting their bottom to Clint Mansell's bizarro-world circus score (my favorite film score of all-time, hands-down). We see characters getting electro-shock therapy, one gets his arm cut off, another becomes the central-figure of an underground sex-show.
Don't do heroin.
Side note: Why doesn't Marlon Wayans do more drama? Can we have Marlon Wayans in more dramas, please?
All four characters end the montage in the fetal position... kind of how I felt after the first time I watched this film.