Study Guide

Requiem for a Dream Harold "Harry" Goldfarb (Jared Leto)

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Harold "Harry" Goldfarb (Jared Leto)

One-Armed Bandit

Everyone wants a boyfriend like Harry Goldfarb. He's an entrepreneur. He wants his girlfriend to be successful. And he looks like Jared Leto.

Sure, there's the whole heroin-using and -dealing thing, but nobody's perfect.

Harry is actually a very simple character with simple goals. He doesn't want to cure AIDS or play the Joker in a movie. He only wants to not have to worry about money, and for his girlfriend, best friend, and mom to be happy. Cue aww's all around.

Harry and "Happy" are pretty close words, but there's something more than a couple letters getting between his Harry-ness and Happiness: drugs.

Although the film doesn't show us how Harry first got into drugs, we can assume his friends introduced him to it. Both Marion and Ty have stronger cravings than Harry does. Each character has a scene where Harry doesn't want to use drugs, but Marion or Ty does, and Harry caves into peer pressure. It's like an R-rated D.A.R.E. public service announcement.

To be fair, it doesn't take much to make Harry give into peer pressure. He says no, thinks about it for 3.14 seconds, and then says yes.

Harry likes to take the easy way out. Maybe it's because his mother never punished him as a child. Maybe it's because his girlfriend comes from a rich family who used to give her money all the time. Or maybe he's just lazy. But Harry's philosophy is that drugs make things better. He should have this line tattooed on his chest.

HARRY: A little stuff will take care of that.

At the end, Harry takes this ideology to the extreme. In fact, he speaks this line right before injecting heroin right into his infected arm. Yeowch. We have more to say about his arm in our "Symbols" page. Don't worry; we won't send you away unarmed. (Too soon?)

He Doesn't Know What Love Is, He Just Does What He's Told

The biggest question for every character in this movie is: why are they addicts? Everyone has their own reasons, and they can be hard to pin down.

Our best guess for Harry is that he uses drugs to avoid his emotions. He's not good at dealing with them. Marion often says, "I love you," to Harry, but he doesn't say it back. Instead, he says:

HARRY: You know something? I always thought you were the most beautiful girl I ever seen.

The most difficult emotion for Harry to cope with is guilt over his mother's loneliness. Let's be real: Harry doesn't treat her right. A good son doesn't steal his mother's TV. A good son also calls every once in a while, and we doubt Harry is calling unless he needs something.

After Sara's confession that she's alone, Harry gets into a cab and cries. His tears mark the first time we've seen him express emotion. But what does he do? He does drugs and returns to a neutral state, like a YouTube video that's permanently buffering.

Harry uses drugs to run from his emotions, and that backfires. He ends up running so far, he finds himself completely alone. Even his arm abandons him. That's cold, arm.

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