HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I hate to cry. I know, people say, it’s good to “get it all out” and “let your emotions flow.” There’s some sort of a cliché about “have a good cry,” which I see only as an oxymoron. You know what I think? There’s no such thing as a good cry.
My eyes get puffy, I feel sad for days afterwards, there’s some sort of residual thing that happens so that even when I’ve stopped crying, and I’m not even sad anymore, it still feels like I’m about to cry.
The problem is, I cry at EVERYTHING. Yes, the Hallmark commercials and anything where there’s a soldier, or a little kid, or anyone leaving anyone. I can’t discuss The Old Man and the Sea. Once, on a road trip, I read the whole thing out loud to my driving boyfriend. Buy the end, I was sobbing. THE WHOLE FISH WAS GONE! I wailed. Oh, nooooo.
Don’t even talk to me about the music from Candide ("And watch our garden grow..” Can’t even type about it.) Defying Gravity, from Wicked. Nope. I’ll lose it. In Les Miserables, “bring him home, bring him home, Bring Him HOME!” They almost had to carry me out of the place. I could go on.
Remember the movie Sling Blade? Jonathan and I went to see it, like our first date. We had planned to see something else, but it was sold out, and we really didn’t care, we’d known each other for a week and “dinner and a movie” was just an activity that one had to do. So we’re like, yeah, what movie has seats? And it was Sling Blade.
So about ten minutes into the movie, I start to sniff. I am trying so hard not to cry, but I know the whole thing is futile.
Jonathan leans over, whispers: “Do you have a cold? Do you want some Kleenex?”
I say, “No thank you, I’m crying.”
“Huh?” He’s worried. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. I’m crying at the movie.”
The look on his face. Utterly utterly baffled. “Why?” he whispered. “It’s not sad."
I whispered back “I know. But it’s going to be sad.”
Oh, yes, and indeed it was. I cried all the way through our Chinese dinner. It’s a wonder J and I are still together. He still doesn’t understand why I get so sad.
Which of course, requires me to protect myself from things that I know will upset me. If there’s a movie we might want to see, or a play, or whatever, I ask—“Is it triumph of the human spirit?" If so, I’m not going.
I ALWAYS cry at triumph of the human spirit.
So. No Beaches. No Schindler’s List. No Fried Green Tomatoes, no Terms of Endearment, No Steel Magnolias, Marley and Me. No Philadelphia, no Boy in Striped Pajamas. Nope nope nope. Not doing it.
No Pearl Harbor, no Band of Brothers (you kidding me?) no Saving Private Ryan.
I couldn’t resist To Kill A Mockingbird, ofcourse. Exception. An Affair to Remember, okay, l loved it. Cried like mad at both. I cried in You’ve got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle and –anything that has any element of Cinderella or the Ugly Ducking. (I think I cried at Maid In Manhattan, okay?) (Psychiatrists, you’re having a field day, right?)
The saddest movie I’ve ever seen? Maybe it was—what’s the title? It’s Italian (not Life Is Beautiful, not a chance I’m going to that) but it’s the one where the little boy hangs out with the film projectionist, who has to cut all the kissing out of the movies, and in the end, he finds all the edited bits, all spliced together, in kiss after kiss? What was that? Oh, yes. Cinema Paradiso. Sad. Lovely. But sad.
There was just a survey, which said The Champ is the saddest movie ever. I didn’t see it—of COURSE—but if you have, you know why. I did see the number two sad movie, Bambi, which, indeed is sad. But is now kind of annoying, since it seems—creepy to show that to kids.
ET! Now that was sad. And Old Yeller. And A Night to Remember, yikes, I saw that as a kid and was permanently traumatized. Still, I find its easier if I know what’s gonna happen. Tell me the end, I always plead. It’ll be easier to handle. They die? They lose? They die, but the planet is saved? Okay, I'll get myself ready for it.
We had brunch this weekend with a bunch of pals, six of us all together, a pretty diverse group if you consider there were criminal defense attorneys AND trust and estate attorneys. But I asked—what’s he saddest movie you’ve ever seen? And do you seek them out? Or avoid them? They were all—analyzing what ”Sad” means. Sad, like, you cry at the end? Or sad like, it’s sad along the way, but happy at the end?
Whatever, I said. Just whatever you think sad is. Love Story, a man said. He admitted he broke down at Love Story. Someone else said The Bicycle Thief. Sophie’s Choice. The Green Mile. (Oh yeah, FORGET about it. I read the book. That was enough.) Bonnie and Clyde isn’t. Thelma and Louise isn’t. There was dissent over Titanic.
We decided "sad” was: unintended consequences. People just trying to do what was right and th en it goes wrong. War. Mistakes. Unfulfilled love. Missing someone, or departures. Saying goodbye. Bravery. Sacrifice.
They all said they were happy going to sad movies. Didn’t avoid them. Me, I do. Avoid them. How about you? Any movies you wish you hadn’t seen? What’s the saddest ever?