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Sad Movies For Miserable People

6 minutes to read

Some people just seem to have a natural, inner happiness that fuels them all day. They’re bright and bubbly and always up for anything. To these people I say, congrats on having a wonderful outlook on life and I ask, how the hell do you do it? Being happy ALL the time sounds absolutely exhausting!

It’s not that I’m some sort of downer or that I get my kicks from playing victim, but sometimes when it’s raining, you’re stocked up on Ben and Jerry’s and you’re all alone, it can actually be really cathartic to have a bit of a cry. While it’s important to make sure your mood stays within a healthy boundary, it can be a really nice release from the pressure to answer “good”, when asked “how are you?”, and to wear a smile even if you’re not really digging it. It’s completely indulgent and, frankly, pleases my inner drama queen. According to our sad people experts, nothing seems to get people in the mood for a sick pity party more than a really sad movie. For my personal favourite emotional foreplay, watch any of the following absolute tear jerkers and get ready for a good bad time.

Camino
2008

Proving that cancer is the worst thing ever in every language, Camino is an international taste of sadness (fancy!). Camino, a young Spanish girl from a deeply religious home, is diagnosed with cancer, and it only gets sadder from there. Although this is a lesser known film, I have seen the manliest, macho men silently weep to this movie: it doesn’t fuck around. Between pressure from her zealot mother to blindly accept her devastating illness as the will of God, and the slow understanding that she has missed out on so much life including the realisation of her first love with a boy called Jesus, Camino is guaranteed to make you cry.

A Little Princess
1995

Considering your mere existence demands the union of sperm and egg (that’s as far as my public schooling knowledge gets me) you likely have some sort of father and some sort of relationship with him. With that in mind, do I have the emotionally crippling movie for you!

Set during WWI, Sara Crewe and her father are forced to leave their magical home in India and move to New York. While her father fights for the British, Sara must attend boarding school and we are quickly walked through how every aspect of her beautiful, exciting life in India is ripped away from her by the cruel headmistress, Miss Minchin (I said it was sad, not original). The next hour and a half of the film can basically be summed up as many scenes of Sara in the foetal position sobbing “PAPAAAA”, spliced with Miss Minchin screaming “YOU’RE NOT A PRINCESS!” But ladies, she doesn’t get it! Sara teaches us that every girl is a princess! And even if her dad isn’t here, I’m sure he’s coming back for Sara, right? I have never in my life made it through this movie without crying, and immediately afterwards hugging my dad.

Grave of the Fireflies
1988

Another movie set during war, this Studio Ghibli classic explores the extreme poverty suffered by a brother and sister (Setsuko and Seita) in Japan during the end of WWII. There’s not a lot of up and down in this movie, it’s pretty much tragic from start to finish: we begin with the death of the siblings’ mother in the first 10 minutes, and end with the kids homeless and starving. This movie’s strong point is the deep emotional connection it builds between the audience and Setsuko and Seita, as well as the unconditional love between Setsuko and Seita. And then the movie fucking crushes these connections. Watch as war slowly destroys every single human happiness known to infant Seita, save for pretty fireflies and the love of her brother, and slowly curl into a ball and weep. Keep tissues on hand and prepare to never look at boiled lollies the same again.

Bridge to Terabithia
2007

I have never seen a movie start off so innocently only to end so absolutely crazy sadly. On top of this, at no point in the movie did it even ever feel like it was building up to sadness: just 0-100 in as long as it takes to swing a rope over a river. You wouldn’t think this imaginative masterpiece would end up on this list of sad movies, but you’d be surprised at the dark twist in the plot. This evilly deceptive children’s movie spends probably the first hour as a perfectly adorable story of newfound friendship and the power of imagination. Yay! And then …SHIT HITS THE FAN! While most have probably been tricked into seeing this movie once, it’s actually worth the rewatch, especially when you know what’s coming and you can emotionally prepare yourself. This is a tween classic, stirring memories of rooms full of children confused and weeping.

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father
2008

This one is probably my saddest movie on the list (saved the best till last!) and that’s because the heartbreaking story of Zachary and his father, Andrew Bagby, really happened. This documentary was created by an amateur filmmaker friend of Andrew’s, following his murder. Andrew, who was a beloved GP in a small town and, as the documentary shows, a generally beautiful person, was brutally killed by his crazy despicable ex-girlfriend, Shirley Turner, aka literally the scummiest person in the whole world (we hate her). Shortly after his murder, Shirley announces her pregnancy and this is where our story begins and we learn about Zachary. The story follows Shirley as she dodges and weaves the political system, diving through loop holes as Andrew’s parents fight for justice. Although it wasn’t the director, Kurt Kuenne’s initial intention, this film ended up being a really interesting deconstruction of the legal system and the ways in which it failed the Bagbys. And by interesting I mean break-your-tv-punching-it frustrating. The emotions in the movie are raw and real, and they will elicit genuine response in you too. As far as sad movies go, this one is a killer.