Sometimes in the life of every mature and independent adult there comes a time when we feel the need to grab the nearest teddy bear and a cozy blanket, then proceed to have a good cry. You can say whatever you want, but it’s absolutely true. We’re complex beings, and adulthood can be really tough. Perhaps you’re going through a difficult time, but you’re trying to stay strong in the eyes of those around you. Other times you just need something to get all those tears out of your system and release the tension. Or perhaps there’s not one particular thing that's bothering you, but you just want to do a kind of emotional detox. In my experience as a human being, struggling and suffering through life, the best way to do this is to watch terribly sad and emotional films. Before you know it, you’ll be shedding some tears, and when the sorrow is over, you’ll feel renewed and ready to take the best nap ever.
So, going back to the movie therapy, this list doesn’t really focus on the quality of the films, but rather on their ability to push that emotional button in our brains, yes, the one in charge of the draining system in the eyes. You might want to grab a tissue beforehand.
Marley and Me (2008) Dir. David Frankel
The story of a family that adopts the cutest and most energetic yellow Labrador the world has ever seen. As time goes by, Marley (the dog) gets bigger and more playful, and the couple has to adapt their lives to Marley’s wishes as their family grows. If that doesn’t warm your heart, wait to the end of the film.
My Sister’s Keeper (2009) Dir. Nick Cassavetes
A married couple decides to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization, so that when she comes to age, she can be a donor for their eldest daughter, who suffers from leukemia. However, when the time comes, the youngest daughter decides to sue her parents and ask for the right to decide over her body.
Life is Beautiful (199) Dir. Roberto Benigni
I mean, come on, a father doing the impossible to make his son believe they’re in a contest to win a tank, while being imprisoned in a concentration camp. It’s seriously heartbreaking to see the despair in this man as he tries to survive, while also looking happy and carefree for his son.
P.S. I Love You (2007) Dir. Richard LaGravenese
Of course, we had to have a cheesy film on the list. It’s a story about the happiest couple in the world, a couple that is meant to be together forever and would have, if it hadn't been for a tragic illness that cuts the man's life short. Knowing that he will not make it, the man makes a list of things for his beloved with instructions of things she must do to overcome the loss. Each letter ends with the heartbreaking “P.S. I love you”.
Still Alice (2014) Dir. Richard Glatzer and Wash West
One of the most renowned linguists in the world discovers she has Alzheimer's. In a tragic account of her decline, we suffer together with Alice, who does her best to overcome her disease even though she knows there’s nothing she can really do but to accept her terrible fate.
The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006) Dir. Gabriele Muccino
What’s sadder than looking at a man facing adversity and all possible obstacles to make a living for himself and his young son? In this movie's extremely touching scenes it’s impossible not to cry when realizing what a father is willing to do in order to make his son’s life a little happier.
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009) Dir. Lasse Hallström
A dog goes to a train station every day to wait for his owner. One day, despite the dog's efforts to prevent his master from going to work, the man goes and dies from a heart attack. Because the dog doesn't know about this, he waits at the station for him anyway. Even though the family tries their best to keep the dog home, he always manages to escape and goes to the train station. As the movie ends, we learn that he decides to stay there for 10 years until he dies.
Lion (2016) Dir. Garth Davis
A young boy gets lost in a train that goes to the city Calcutta. He desperately tries to get back home to his family, but he doesn't speak the local language, so his efforts are futile. After living on the street for a while, he ends up in an orphanage where an Australian couple adopts him. When he grows up, he starts remembering his past life and decides he has to find out his place of birth and his biological mother.
Toy Story 3 (2009) Dir. Lee Unkrich
"The toys were holding hands in a furnace!"
I mean, if you didn’t cry with this one, you have no heart. Andy has grown up and decides to donate his beloved toys to a preschool. It came out many years ago, so I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I won’t give the whole plot away, just the last sequence where Andy introduces a little girl to all those characters that have been with us for such a long time (I literally had tears running down my face!)
Dead Poets Society (1989) Dir. Peter Weir
“Oh, Captain! My Captain!" Do I have to say anything other than the fact that Robin Williams is no longer with us? This is the story of a group of kids who fall in love with poetry after their eccentric professor teaches them the truth about life. I really don’t want to spoil the end for those who haven’t seen it. If that’s the case, what are you waiting for?
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