10 Great Movies That Are Hard To Watch Twice (Because They’re Too Sad)
From epic classics like Titanic to award-winning giants like The Pianist, these movies are difficult to get through more than once; they’re too sad.
How many times do viewers have to be “in the mood” to watch a particular movie? Because cinema has a way of altering viewers’ emotional states so profoundly, they need to be ready to receive the sort of stimulation that comes from having their senses gripped at the most profound and visceral level.
Great cinema makes an audience feel emotions in a powerful way. Viewers respond to thematic imagery, circumstances, and performances, and often emerge from the experience with a profoundly new worldview or an altered perspective. Sometimes, these experiences are simply too overwhelming, and even a great movie can only bear one viewing.
While most viewers know vague details about the famous sinking of the Titanic, they aren’t prepared to get up close and personal with the passengers and crew whose lives were forever impacted by the tragedy. Over 1,500 people died, most of whom were crew and third-class passengers, with thousands of more survivors haunted by their memories.
At the center of the movie, which takes painstaking detail to accurately portray Titanic’s voyage to America, are the star-crossed lovers Jack and Rose, whose love is as doomed as the ship that fate has put them on. Watching what happens to them, and all the helpless victims is one of the many reasons that the masterpiece is so difficult to revisit.
9 The Green Mile
Stephen King movies aren’t always well-adapted, and for every award-winning The Shawshank Redemption there’s a made-for-TV The Langoliers. But The Green Mile is unique in that it has a strong constellation of production values, narrative themes, and most importantly cast. It not only has a heart-wrenching premise, but its star Michael Clarke Duncan passed away in 2012, making it even more difficult to revisit.
The movie focuses on prison guard Paul Edgecomb, who’s seen every sort of convict walking “the mile”, but not John Coffey. The gentle giant is on death row for killing two girls, but Edgecomb can’t believe it’s true given how docile the man is and the special gift he seems to have for reaching out to people. Viewers spending time with Coffey can’t help but be drawn to him as they identify with Edgecomb’s doubt and regard for a man he knows is doomed to die.
8 Leaving Las Vegas
Leaving Las Vegas begins with a man so consumed by the aftermath of being fired from his job and losing his family, that he travels to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. Knowing this, it’s difficult for audiences to look away from his slow and agonizing suicide, especially when he meets a warmhearted prostitute who seems to give him a reason to live.
She doesn’t feel like she can say anything about his drinking, and he doesn’t feel like he can say anything about her job, and the two share a codependent love that burns twice as bright on its way out. Both of them are reduced to ash on the wind in an ending so devastating that no one would want to put themselves through it again.
7 Brokeback Mountain
When two men take a seasonal job herding sheep in Colorado, they develop a unique relationship built on love, trust, and dedication. Through the decades, the men maintain this bond despite marrying women and even having children. The fact that they can’t live together in the light of day and be themselves, combined with the violence inflicted on gay men at the time, makes this a hard movie to get through.
Brokeback Mountain is one of the most tragic love stories in recent cinema because while it takes place decades in the past, none of the reasons it’s so sad has gotten any better with the passing of time. The movie cements the fact that society hasn’t come very far at all, which only adds to its melancholic reception.
6 My Girl
Young love is supposed to be one of the most buoyant, uplifting, and pure things that there is in life, and it’s fleeting by design. Young people in love rarely stay in love because they grow, change, and the love is a stepping stone to something more mature. In the case of My Girl, it’s because of tragedy.
The movie focuses on a young tomboy whose mother died birthing her and whose father is the local funeral director. Besides being already thought of as a freak, her best friend is a boy, one who teaches her the value of living life at the moment even if the moment is all you’ll have.
The bond a mother has with her children and they with her isn’t easily broken, so when their father starts dating a much younger woman after the divorce, there are a lot of hurt feelings to consider. Things become even more problematic when that girlfriend will soon earn the title of “stepmom”, and the children’s real mom faces an uncertain future in more ways than one.
Stepmom definitely has its joyful and heartwarming moments, but the overwhelming sense of dread towards its second half makes it particularly hard to endure. It will definitely make viewers squeeze their moms a little tighter.
Despite being two very different types of women, an unlikely childhood friendship makes them concrete confidants through the years. After finding a way to remain friends through marriages, children, career changes, and everything else, tragedy threatens to tear it apart at its foundation.
Beaches is about the very best of friends who, despite life’s ups and downs, manage to spend it inextricably linked. Even when they go through spats, they never stop thinking about one another, and they repair their bond because they know that one day (perhaps sooner than they think) it will be gone. This powerful portrait of female friendship is a real tearjerker for anyone who’s had a best friend they can’t imagine not being in their life.
3 Seven Pounds
When a man decides to help seven random strangers with seven different health problems, it all seems like chance in Seven Pounds, until pieces of both his life and theirs slowly come together into a tapestry that’s woven with both heartwarming moments and heartache.
Donating organs and other pieces of his body away is incredibly selfless, but eventually, he meets a woman who just might make him reconsider his mission. But being with her could mean losing her to her heart condition, so he must weigh the time he has with her against giving her all the time in the world – without him.
2 The Pianist
Based on the incredible true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish pianist in Warsaw during WWII, it chronicles his time in the Warsaw Ghetto with his family, Operation Reinhard which sees him separated from them, and then finally his time spent hiding in the ruins of the city while his family is confined to a concentration camp.
It’s difficult to imagine one man living through the trauma Szpilman sees until audiences remember that it not only is all completely true but is but one story in thousands of a similar kind. What makes the movie particularly difficult to watch is that its hero isn’t really a hero at all, but survives because of luck and the kindness of others, and is wrecked by guilt and shame even as he does so.
1 Revolutionary Road
Revolutionary Road is what happens after two lovers meet and believe their insatiable lust for each other will provide them with endless warmth for years to come, only to find out that it will be snuffed out far faster than they think, leaving only a pile of ash and sadness. In other words, it’s the hard, gritty reality after Jack and Rose both survive Titanic.
A man and woman meet under the most Bohemian of circumstances at a party in the ’50s, and they soon embark on a fairytale romance. Their wedded bliss soon sours as the expectations and ennui of suburban life completely erode their passion for everything, and the many attempts over the years to alter their slow, monotonous march towards death ultimately end in hopeless depression and despair.