Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Top 10 Heartbreaking Films

It's February, a month that most people associate with a very notorious holiday that often leaves single people feeling a bit bitter. Why, yes, I do happen to be single, but I assure you that my bitterness has less to do with this holiday and more to do with my own past experiences during this month. Granted, one of those experiences was on that particular day, but yeah. I'm not a fan of February. And since I've been going through my yearly bouts of depression and self-loathing, I figured I'd use that as fuel for you folks. So, here I'll be displaying before you all the films that break my heart every single time I watch them.

Yaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy....

Below, I'll detail how and why they do so as well. So, as with most of my reviews, there will be spoilers. But at this point I feel like you should all know the spoilers are a given, especially if you're reading my site with any sort of regularity. Go grab some tissues and some chocolates as I take you through some of my favourite films...that break my heart into millions of pieces.

It's not actually in black and white. It's just that sad.

#10, Casshern (2004)

Casshern is a Japanese film based on the classic superhero character from the 1973 Tatsunoko series, Neo-Human Casshern (or Casshan). It's a dystopian tale of robots and cyborgs. Now, how does something that sounds so distinctly like a generic sci-fi action film make this list? Well, that's easy, because this movie is actually not about a cyborg hero fighting robots. This movie is about a veteran being so haunted by the experiences he had in the war that it rules his entire life. Or rather, his death. You see, he's a resurrected man who constantly is struggling to even want to keep fighting throughout this entire film, as he blames himself for killing civilians. He wants to be dead, but trudges along to attempt to save those he loves. And in the end...he doesn't. No one really wins in the end of this movie, leaving us on a rather bittersweet montage of the various dead characters in what I can only assume are their own private afterlives, where they're allowed to be happy. This movie can be confusing but it's also extremely moving and beautiful to behold. It's one of those movies that just doesn't really get talked about much, even among fans of Japanese cinema. That's a shame too, because it deserves to be looked at more deeply.

It's hard not to feel sad when Bill Murray looks sad.
#9, Lost in Translation (2003)

This one, depending on who you are, may either seem obvious or surprising. On the one hand it can be seen as an inspirational tale about finding someone who truly understands you. But for me it felt like a tale of how two lonely people who need one another aren't ready to make that leap to something more. Whether it be because of the age gap, the obvious distance they're soon to have between them, the issues she has with her inattentive lover, or his own feelings of inadequacy as he enters old age, it's clear that they do need one another. And that makes it so very sad too, because it's a sign of how lost they both are. They grab onto another lost soul so they aren't alone and, when it seems like it might be something more, life pulls them apart. It closes on a somewhat hopeful note when they reconcile after a fight they had when he slept with another woman, but it's really up to the viewer to interpret. I personally would like to hope that maybe they both go forward from there in positive ways, perhaps even with one another, but I'm an optimist. At least, when it comes to stories. In real life I am honestly more of a realist, which really hinders the optimism thing.

I can feel the eyes rolling already.

#8, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996)

Yeah, this movie is one the list. Hold back your exasperated over-dramatic sighs and listen though, because you might be surprised. This isn't here because of the classic tragic love story aspect. Nope. This is here because of the tragedy that happens much earlier in the film. The death of Romeo's beat friend, Mercutio. As a fan of Shakespeare's work, it's not like I didn't know it was coming. It was a pivotal moment in the story that often gets overshadowed by the whole "star-crossed lovers" aspect of it all. And Mercutio is easily the most likable character, both in the play and in this film. But I actually found myself even more charmed by him in the film due to the performance of Harold Perrineau. He took an already endearing character and made him into this person who I desperately wanted to be friends with. I wanted to go party with Mercutio, hang out with him on the beach (even though I loathe beaches), and laugh at his taunts. When his death finally hits in the film, I felt the full weight of it as he blamed his friend for his death and I cried right there in English class. Yeah, we watched this in English class. For that matter, I also have to applaud Leo's ability to convincingly portray someone dealing with the loss of a friend. This movie makes me choke up just thinking about it and I feel like people are way too hard on the film in general.

Them Cronenberg feels.
#7, The Fly (1986)

David Cronenberg is a master of making fucked up films that involve horrible things happening to people (both mentally and physically). Back in 1986 he gave us a remake of the classic film, The Fly. If you've seen this movie then you know there are two standout things regarding it. First, it is really gross. It's definitely not a film I would recommend for people with weak stomachs, as you see the full metamorphosis that happens to Goldblum's character throughout the film, which is anything but pretty. Second, it's that said transformation is incredibly sad. I mean, you literally see a man falling apart in every single way as he struggles to hold onto his humanity, ultimately resulting in him endangering the life of the woman he loves. By the end of the film, his mind is so gone that it's not the same man anymore, a revelation that doesn't make it any easier for her as she ultimately puts him down with a bullet to the head. When she weeps over his dead body, you feel her pain, because you remember that this used to be a man who loved her and whom she still loved, despite his nightmarish transformation.

"I sharted..."

#6, Man on the Moon (1999)

This film was the story about the life of renowned comedian, Andy Kaufman, and portrayed the many happy and sad moments from his life. Jim Carrey gave a great performance that was both hilarious and moving as the comedian that he himself idolized and the entire movie is an incredibly moving experience. But as far as heartbreaking moments go, the bit towards the end is where it really beats me down. Kaufman is dying of a rare form of lung cancer and is struggling to keep those he loves happy and laughing, even when he's at his worst. Things reach their sadness crescendo as he goes to the Philippines in search of a miracle only to see that it's not real, resulting in him laughing in a very bittersweet moment of realization. This entire movie, while entertaining, pulls at my heartstrings as I too understand what it's like to put your own needs aside to try and keep others happy. It's how I've handled (or rather, didn't handle) my own issues throughout my life. It's not a healthy decision but sometimes we feel like we need to make someone smile because we have such a hard time managing one ourselves. Maybe that's why sometimes it's hard to see how depressed certain people really are until it's too late.

That's right, Forrest. You're on the list.

#5, Forrest Gump (1994)

We all know this movie. It's easily one of the most famous films ever made and probably Tom Hanks' most famous work ever. It was the story of a "slow-witted" man who grew up having to cope with that, but never once letting it keep him from being true to himself or the teachings of his mother. He works hard throughout the story, coming out the other side a strong person who has so much love in his heart. There are countless sad moments to highlight in this film, but the one that really gets me is when he learns he has a son. His immediate response to this news is worry, because Forrest fears that he's passed his own mental state onto his son and it really brings me to my emotional knees. People who know me know that I have gone on record as saying that I don't really want children. There are a number of reasons why, which include the fact that I feel very parental to my nephews and niece already. But a big reason most people don't know is that I am honestly afraid of passing on my own issues to my kids. I am not a mentally sound man and it would break my heart to think I was putting that same weight on a child. When Forrest gets all teary eyed, learning his son is one of the smartest kids in his class, I am right there with him. Hell, thinking about it has me tearing up right now.

"You know, you look great with longer hair."

#4, Reign Over Me (2007)

Gasp! An Adam Sandler film? On a good list? Yes, as shocking as it may seem, he's done some really good movies. Movies that managed to not only have a bit of intelligence to them but also a lot of heart. This movie is one such example as he plays a man who has receded into himself after his family died on September 11th, when the Twin Towers fell. His old friend reconnects with him, trying to pull him out of his buble and into a better place. The one thing that seems to bring him some comfort throughout the story is the song "Love, Reign o'er Me" by The Who, which he listens to when he gets upset. It's his security blanket of sorts and the chorus of the song seems to reflect his own inner turmoil. In one particular moment, he goes into himself in the middle of court and it is the saddest damn thing to see. I was overcome during my first viewing of it because I was shocked at how intensely sad he looked, which makes me wonder why Sandler doesn't do more drama. He clearly has the chops for it and I feel like his comedy is stale and repetitive, which is an opinion that many others seem to share. Come on, Adam, make me feel something again rather than bored.

I like to imagine they're aiming directly at the DC Comics offices. Not to kill anyone, just to scare them.

#3, Léon: The Professional (1994)

This movie...oh, this movie. First, I have to go on record and illustrate that this is, in fact, my absolute favourite film. The story, the acting, the action sequences, and just the feel are so perfect that I cannot help but love it with every fiber of my being. That being said, it's also one of the saddest movies ever made, in my humble opinion. It's the story of a hired assassin and a young girl he takes in after her family is murdered down the hall from his apartment. Léon himself is such a tragic figure through the entire story, as he's this man who experienced heartbreak that led him down his current, very solemn existence. When Mathilda enters his life, he's forced to now deal with another person, someone who is as fragile as he is, that needs him to protect her. And he does, even from herself, as she tries to take up his profession. Throughout the story he finds himself growing to love this girl, who also seems to love him, but it's somewhat unclear how he loves her. If it's romantic, you can be happy with the knowledge that he never acts on it. He loves her so much that, in the end, he sacrifices his own life for her. It wasn't something he wanted to do, as it was clear he wanted to live his life with her, but he was forced to because it was the only thing he could do to protect her from this person who wanted her dead. This is a truly beautiful film and deserves every bit of acclaim it has received. Also, Jean Reno is god.

I have nothing funny to say here, because this honestly hurts to look at.

#2, The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Speaking of movies that turn me into a miserable feelsy puddle of a human being, take this movie. This movie broke me when I first watched it. There is always supposed to be an element of putting oneself in the shoes of the protagonist, making you care about their struggles, but this movie did that to a scary degree for me. I can't really pinpoint any one thing about the main character, Charlie, that I really connected with...because I connected with almost everything about him. The only part I didn't connect with is his past with his aunt, even though I had similar repressed memories (they just didn't involve my aunt). From Charlie blacking out during a fight to him not being able to cope with all the emotional pain around him, he reminded me of myself so much that I still feel the impact of this movie to this day. If ever there were a film I would tell others to watch so as to better understand me, it'd be this movie. Charlie is forced to finally get help when he's rushed to the hospital and seems to be handling things better in the close, but you still feel that he's not magically cured. He's still the same Charlie as before, just more in control for now. And that's how life is for people who suffer from mental illnesses. There are no cures or perfect recoveries, there's only learning to cope and moving on with your life.

Does this look like a heart-warming tale to you? Because it isn't. It's emotional torture.

#1, Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Of course this movie is my number one. Did you honestly think that any other movie could be? Because if so, what is wrong with you? This movie is the saddest movie I have ever seen. I saw it at a young age and I have yet to see a single movie that made me feel as emotionally drained and beaten down as this movie did (and still does). It's a story about a brother and his younger sister trying to survive just after the end of World War II. The film shows their struggles in heart-destroying detail, leaving the audience to feel every single hardship as the children do. Ultimately, this results in us having to watch as they both die, with the film closing out with their spirits looking happy as they are surrounded by fireflies. This movies is notorious for being an emotional experience that can honestly be hard to recover from. So, if you're one of those people who thinks cartoons are just for kids, then you've clearly never seen this.

I'd say this was me after writing this list, but I honestly look worse.

Well, that's my list. I'm sure plenty of you don't agree with all of my choices and that's fine. Please, comment with your own list and tell me what you thought of mine. I do write these things for you people, after all, so clearly I would like to know how you feel about my words. And, if this was too emotionally tasking for you, worry not. I promise to counter-balance this list with a happier one later this month. I don't want my sad feelings to be everyone's sad feelings. Later days, bleeders.

Dry those tears and remember that I love you guys.

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