"Harry locked his mother in the closet." The first line of Hubert Selby Jr.'s novel, vigorously transposed to film by the venturesome director of [Pi], gets to the essence of two warring addicts: mother Sara (Ellen Burstyn), the Blanche DuBois of Brighton Beach, and her son (Jared Leto). Mom swears by amphetamines and TV hucksters; Harry loves heroin and his desperate girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly). Using the bravery of his actors, and every trick in a smart cineast's book, Aronofsky takes the viewer on a jolting trip through the theme park called Hell. It's a demanding film, and a real movie.
--By Richard Corliss