People, I am a crier. I cry reading books, I cry at Hallmark commercials, I cry even when I know I am being blatantly manipulated by schmaltzy emotional hijackers like swelling soundtracks and dead beloved pets. It drives me crazy, but I can’t stop it. It’s an involuntary reaction, I swear. Still, a worthy cry from an honestly pathetic story is a cathartic experience, nothing to be ashamed of. Here’s a list of ten good movies that will break your heart, but in a good way.
Truly, Madly, Deeply: Nina (Juliette Stephenson) is still mourning the sudden death of her love, Jamie (the inimitable Alan Rickman. Seriously, if you think he’s just a villain, you are only getting half the Alan Rickman story) when she finds him unexpectedly in her life and her flat once again. Written and directed by the late Anthonly Minghella, it’s a lovely film about love, grief, and how to heal.
In America: Christy and Ariel come to NYC from Ireland with their grieving parents who seek a better life for them. In Hell’s Kitchen, there is beauty and pain, love and grief.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles: This adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel is beautifully filmed and tragic. It’s the familiar story of a poor girl used by wealthy relations, unfairly punished by a man who should have loved her, and ultimately subjected to the worst possible consequences for an act that, in my book, was perfectly reasonable considering the circumstances.
The Man in the Moon: 14 year-old Reese Witherspoon stars as Dani, a teenage tomboy in 1950s Louisiana who develops a crush on an older boy. Her carefree summer is complicated, though, by her mother’s troubled pregnancy, her beautiful, accomplished older sister, and a totally unexpected tragedy.
The Iron Giant: A boy and an innocent giant from outer space meet in a small town at the height of the Cold War. Of course, a paranoid government agent is determined to protect the country and destroy the giant at any cost.
Up: That montage–that montage! You know, the one that wordlessly tells the story of Carl and Ellie’s real and happy life together–the joy and the pain of living together in love? If you haven’t shed even one little tear at that montage, I don’t know that you’ve really fully lived.
Bright Star: Poet John Keats meets lively, fashionable, impoverished Fanny Brawne when he stays next door to the Brawnes with his friend and fellow poet, Charles Brown. If the stunningly beautiful visuals of this film don’t break your heart just a little, the melancholic romance of the real-life sweethearts will.
Brian’s Song: I was introduced to this film in the 80s when my mom and dad rented it for us to watch while they went out one Saturday night. A football movie? My sister and I were so disappointed, and yet, by the time we were tucked in to sleep, there was not a dry eye in the house. Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo become friends despite competing for the same starting position for the Chicago Bears. That friendship becomes even more important when Brian discovers that he is terminally ill.
Big Fish: I think most people can relate to the pathos of the father/child relationship–the desire for connection mingled with the mystery and myth of a figure who looms large over our young lives. This film stars Ewan MacGregor as a son sorting out the great feats and failings of his dying father, played by Albert Finney.
The Dirty Dozen: “I cried at the end of “the Dirty Dozen.” Who didn’t? Jim Brown was throwing these hand grenades down these airshafts. And Richard Jaeckel and Lee Marvin were sitting on top of this armored personnel carrier, dressed up like Nazis…Stop, stop! And Trini Lopez, he busted his neck while they were parachuting down behind the Nazi lines…Stop! And Richard Jaeckel – at the beginning he had on this shiny helmet. Please no more. Oh God! I loved that movie.”