If you want to care about people, and have that caring gradually torn to shreds, turn to Darren Aronofsky’s Brooklyn-situated drug abuse movie, as bottomless as any pit can get.
The premise is straightforward: mother, son, son’s girlfriend, and a close friend are all addicts. Lovers Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto) and Marion Silver (Jennifer Connolly, she of the shattered Virgin Mary face) seem at first to manage their “contained” heroin habit. But Harry’s needs grow unreasonable, then feral, finally insane. He spreads the germ. Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn), his mother, is stuck on diet pills, and she, too, tips toward madness.
Aronofsky unapologetically plunges them all into the abyss. Connolly, in a sex-for-drugs encounter in a New York hotel, takes performance risks that few mainstream actresses would touch, while Burstyn’s maimed grace is a dumbfounding achievement. The last 30 minutes are a collective assassination, with each character relinquishing dignity because they don’t know what it is. Toxic stuff, so handle gingerly.