Movie Mettle is a weekly column for moviegoers with weak constitutions. Wish you had the balls to sit through the goriest of horror movies? Want to build up your resistance to weepy rom-coms? Each week we’ll give you a range of five movies that will test your limits, you cinematic thrillseeker, you.
The column formerly (and briefly) known as Pushing the Envelope is now Movie Mettle—has a nicer ring to it, don’t you think? It’s a happy occasion, to be sure, but today we’re going to be tackling the tearjerkers. Full disclaimer: I cry at everything. Animated movies, sci-fi, honest-to-God comedies… If there’s even one moment with emotion and a carefully timed score, I’ve been known to lose it at the movie theater.
I know that my crybaby brethren are out there, who want to watch emotional films but are afraid of embarrassing themselves. Or alternatively, maybe you’re tired of presenting a stiff upper lip to the world and want permission to run the waterworks for a little. It’s healthy! And I have just the five films to help you through this journey to becoming an actual person.
Tissues in hand? Excellent.
Warm-Up: The Notebook[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3G3fILPQAU&version=3&hl=en_US]
Yes, this Nicholas Sparks film was the tearjerker to rule them all… eight years ago. At this point, you’ve been told that you have to cry at it so often that your eyes will produce tears out of some weird Pavlovian response. That’s what makes this a great warm-up. You have fair warning that you’re going to be tearing up when Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams make it past their different social stations and her meddling mother to finally be together, only for… You know what? I’m not going to ruin it for you. Because the part that made me gasp was a surprise.
Even if you stay dry-eyed, you’re likely sniffling and clenching your jaw, which is good practice for the next four films.
Novice: Requiem for a Dream[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgo3Hb5vWLE&version=3&hl=en_US]
Now, this is something of a wild card, which is why I’m including it early in the list. Reactions to this beautifully-shot cautionary tale about drugs will probably range: Some people will be merely shocked by the depths to which these characters are plunged in their quest for the next high, while others will be moved to tears. Maybe it’s personal experience that moves you, or maybe it’s simply the utter shock of Ellen Burstyn’s slow, insidious transformation from bubbly widowed mother to addict. I can’t say, but get ready to get hit right in the feels when you’re not expecting to.
Intermediate: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T43InzvBm-k&hl=en_US&version=3]
An apocalyptic film, you say? Steve Carell playing a sadsack? Keira Knightley being too quirky to handle? Any of these elements should have handicapped this film, but instead they serve to ground what could be an absurd, fantastic, unbelievable tale. Sure, it may seem contrived to have two strangers thrown together a fortnight before the world ends, but it’s how they react to their new surroundings and what they learn from one another that makes this film so effing sad. It doesn’t help that there are multiple points that seem to be the end that was foretold at the beginning, so you find yourself worked up to quiet and then more wracking sobs.
Expert: Click[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=448jZuA5Y1I&hl=en_US&version=3]
Pull up a Reddit thread about movies that make you cry, and this Adam Sandler comedy will consistently make the list. I have to this is the one movie on the list I haven’t actually seen, but you can trust Reddit (most of the time). As with other entries on this list, the potential for unabashed sobs comes from a major surprise partway through. I won’t ruin that, but I’ll just say that you’ll be thrown for a loop. Never before has an Adam Sandler movie taught adults so much about their own lives.
So few initials to describe such a momentous, emotional film. Ask most people what the saddest movie they’ve seen is, and they respond, “The first 10 minutes of Up.” In a sequence almost entirely devoid of dialogue, they tell a better love story than Twilight. And then there’s the other 86 minutes to contend with!
Photo: Focus Features
Now here’s your challenge: Make me cry with your own recommendations for super-sad movies. It won’t be that difficult.
Even more importantly—have a genre of movie that you wish you could sit through? Leave your request in the comments and I might take it on in a future column!