sad films and shows that might successfully make you cry
Pass the tissues.
Crying Leo in Romeo + Juliet (not actually featured)
Tears are in the eyes of the beholder, as I’m sure someone once thought about saying. Or rather, films or TV shows that make me cry might not make you cry, but it’s winter and it’s dark and watching films that can poke a good weeping session out of you are sometimes much-needed. My best mate can’t make it through the opening of Finding Nemo without sobbing, while my boyfriend struggles to keep his eyes dry during School of Rock. It all depends what’s lurking in your horrible little psyche.
When I was a kid I would excuse myself as desperately needing the toilet whenever something supremely sad happened on screen (I’ll never get over Mufasa’s death) so I wouldn’t have to go through the ordeal of crying. But even though I’m older now and can embrace a cry a bit better, I still struggle to react in the right Notebook-y sort of way. (Just don’t make me watch Land Before Time).
So I tend to avoid the unforgiving saddies, the films that want to leave you a watery mess on the floor of the cinema, unable to remember anything but the constant pain you’ve just ingested over the last 100 minutes. I know my triggers but I like to be surprised by an emotional breakdown mid-viewing, don’t bash me over the head with your cinematic misery agenda. So here are some more memorable moments of TV and film that set my eyes a-crying (or near enough).
Films that are relentlessly depressing numb my ability to feel real sadness -- I trudged through Requiem for a Dream with little to no emotion stirring against the on-screen barrage of hellish despair. But while Room is still one of the most upsetting films I’ve ever seen, it’s a heart-wrenching watch I can’t shake off. Despite a (mostly) uplifting ending I haven’t been this crushed since I accidentally watched all of Stepmom.
I’m not sure I will ever get over Beth’s (Claire Danes) angelic deathbed face. The most pure and benevolent and unfair fictional death you’ll ever watch through blurry wet eyes, as you are forced to contemplate both your own mortality and the fact your face will never look as simultaneously glowing and desperate. For years I didn’t even realise it was Claire Danes, because I’d cordoned off that character as TOO HARROWING TO THINK ABOUT.
La La Land
I almost cried two minutes in when I realised it was a musical.
A kind of Blade Runner for kids, this film has always punched my tear ducts. As a kind and caring sort of G.I. Joe cyberman, Andrew watches his flesh and blood family grow old and have kids and die (and uncannily reincarnated thanks to Embeth Davidtz’s dual role as a mother and her own granddaughter) while he battles to achieve the humanity that will inevitably bring about his own demise. Bleak. Try and tell yourself you can’t possibly be devastated by a PG-rated film, and you’ll fail.
The Sinner (Netflix)
Admittedly more of a stylish thriller than a weepy drama, it has an extremely consuming and tense atmosphere that draws you in (mainly to do with Jessica Biel’s face listening to that damn catchy song they keep playing). It’s more engaging than a silver fox Bill Pullman playing a sexually submissive detective (yep that’s in here too). The heartstrings are definitely tugged as we watch Cora (Biel) try to figure out why she killed a man she’s never met before, and flashbacks to her relationship with her housebound sister made me super emosh. However, I’m not disregarding the fact that maybe I empathise too much with a woman who feels an out of control desire for revenge against men who’ve wronged her. Shrug.
I didn’t so much well up at Carol as repeatedly scream “YOU HAVE TO BE TOGETHER.” Christmas is already an emotional, homoerotic time of year, and the sight of Cate Blanchett making eyes at Rooney Mara amid the stuffy Christmas shoppers is the most beautifully festive gutpunch.
Under the Skin
An odd choice, maybe, but it got to me big time. On paper the film reads as “Sexy alien drives van around Glasgow,” but like the fates of all the men that the van-driving alien murders, it’s a pretty deep dark pool of goo. And sad goo at that. ScarJo-in-Scotland lives a lonely life, unable to integrate, unable to continue her disturbing ‘work’, and unable to look less than extremely attractive in every shot. If you’re into asking, “What does it mean to be human?” or, “How would members of the public react to a Hollywood babe inviting them into her van?” then watch.
Wipe a tear away instantly at the knowledge that this stunning girl-centric movie is female director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature film. Mustang made me nostalgic for my youth and full of anguish for the group of sisters who want to be free to be themselves. I doubt there’s anyone out there who doesn’t relate to the frustrations of pushing against parental rule, but I bet you didn’t look as winsomely picturesque doing it.
You can tell I get all stirred up by coming of age films, as here I am listing another female-directed study of girls dealing with womanhood. This is a beautiful film that’s also hard to watch at times, but that scene where all the girls dance their troubles away to Diamonds by Rihanna is peak feels. And Rihanna let them use the song for free! My heart.
I was five and it was the first time I’d been jump-scared by CGI ghosts.
The OA (Netflix)
It could have been the weather, my financial instability, or even just my malicious hormones, but I cried at some point during almost every episode of The OA. Great story, great cast, great soundtrack, great use of Jason Isaacs’s biceps. But most pertinently, Brit Marling’s face is too perfect at doing that thing where her eyes look like two melancholy goldfish bowls filling up with water. There’s one scene where she’s in a supermarket and she picks up a jumper with a wolf on it to show her parents and suddenly I was a wreck. She could have held up a Chicago Town Pizza and started eating it frozen and I probably would have cried.