1. a film so beautiful in its tragedy that repeated viewings make you wish a different ending would occur, though you know that it could not;
2. a love story of such tragic nature that it makes you appreciate that the characters got to experience love, no matter how brief and finite (see: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost …)
1. Atonement — more bittersweet than Romeo And Juliet, this tale of star-crossed lovers stings you with visions of what is later revealed to be the impossible. Robbie (James McAvoy) and Cecilia (Keira Knightley) will not be together again. They will never know the joys of love, the chill of a British sea frolic, or the simple sweetness of waking in each other’s arms. All due to a busy-body, entitled brat (Saorise Ronan). Give it up to Ian McEwan and Joe Wright for creating the most perfect love story that never was, and letting moviegoers leave theaters hating a child … and not feel the least bit guilty about it.
2. Waking The Dead — No, this is not about zombies. But it is about the dead come to life. Fielding (Billy Crudup) and Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) were so opposite, of course they were meant for each other. Her ardent belief in defying “the man” was almost certain to drive a wedge between her and the military man she loved, in this modern-day version of The Way We Were … only with a much more tragic end. The film finds its lead, Fielding, questioning not only his life choices, but whether or not his dead lover is really dead after all. Is she alive? Is she a ghost? Is she merely a figment of Fielding’s longing for a simpler time, when all he needed was her by his side? This indie gem explores the effect the people we love have on our lives, even long after they’ve been gone … and shows that sometimes, no matter how far, those people are forever entombed in the hearts of those who loved them most.
3. P.S. I Love You — All I have to say is thank God this movie has spurts of the funny. Gerard Butler stars in all his Irish glory as Gerry, husband to American Holly (Hilary Swank). All’s not necessarily well, but it is well enough for a sweet life … until the bottom falls out. Gerry dies too soon in a marriage that had only just begun and Holly is left to pick up the pieces of a life that had barely started. Luckily, Gerry has left a series of letters for Holly to uncover all while trying to heal from the loss. This movie, in all its celebration of Irish culture and cuteness, rips the heart out of its viewer while also allowing them to laugh at the process. A must see for someone who loves anyone … especially if they’ve lost them.
4. The Fountain — Darren Aronofsky never disappoints when it comes to tragedy .. but rarely is it ever so beautiful. In this time-bending tour de force, he explores the connection that exists between soul-mates and the lengths to which one will go to preserve that connection. You can’t ever expect to leave an Aronofsky film without being disturbed, saddened or made wary of the thorns of life and love … and this film is no exception. But at least this character’s goal is a noble one … even if it is so achingly far out of reach.
5. Moulin Rouge — Oh, how I love theatrics! Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Satine (Nicole Kidman) are made for each other … and nothing can stand in the way. Not poverty, circumstance or the fact of the matter … she’s a whore. No matter. He’s smitten, and rightly so. Until the ever-formidable foe of this turn-of-the-century musical rears its ugly head — consumption. T.B. Turberculo … eh, who cares what she’s got. She’s sick and we know from minute one that she’ll die and leave Christian alone, penniless and miserable. Ah, the bread and butter of deliciously tragic. This romp poses the eternal question … does love have to last forever? Or can it be a moment … a sweet, breathless moment that sweeps us off our feet and leaves us wanting more. Even if more will never, can never come.
See also: Brokeback Mountain; Love Actually (Sarah & Karl segment); The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button; A River Runs Through It; A Single Man
Hopeful … Blue Valentine
Currently in limited release, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this glimpse into the brief marriage of two young people, deeply in love. Inspired by the Motown song “Where Did Our Love Go?”, Blue Valentine dares to seek the answer to the ultimate question: Why does love die, and where does that love go? Gosling and Williams are two of young Hollywood’s most dynamic actors, and previous portrayals have showcased their deftness at tapping into any and all emotional wellsprings, each and every corner of the human psyche. Though a simple concept, nothing can be more sacred than the inner workings of a marriage. Certainly, nothing can be more tragic than watching such a thing fall apart.