First off let me say I am a bit of a cryer when it comes to movies. I don't just cry at Love Story or the Way We Were or epics that are intended to turn you into a sobbing idiot. No, I cry at almost any film. I have even been known to cry at trailers ( I am a sucker for that swelling music that they use to hype up your hippocampus).
I frequently cry at comedies. Some comedies even bring me to the crazy face crying. You know the kind? It is the kind of crying where you don't just have a few tears rolling down your face, but rather you are making scrunched up ugly crying faces and may have completely destroyed all the eye makeup you put on for the evening. You don't even want to see me at the end of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. You remember when the Greek father gives the toast at the end? I am a wreck at that point. It takes me eight Kleenex and a bottle of Lancome eye makeup remover( or some Windex) to put myself back together after that scene.
This year I have cried at all of them. I cried at Zero Dark Thirty ( that beginning segment, the one in which you hear the phone calls of the people calling for help from the Twin Towers on 9/11, totally destroyed me). I cried at Silver Linings Playbook ( The moment when she tells him off and he tells her that he loves her) and Lincoln ( When the Tommy Lee character gives his lover a copy of the bill I totally lose it) and The Life of Pi (when the boat capsizes and his family is lost) and almost everything else I saw. Gosh, I even cried at Sky Fall( when Judy Dench died). As you can see, I am a bit of an easy cry.
However there are some films that took me out of the realm of ordinary cinematic sadness into shoulder shaking tears. I feel sure that these films would have a similar emotional impact on anyone who is childless not by choice. The first film that put me into a post-movie depression was This is 40
Okay, this one blindsided me. I had no idea I was going to need Kleenex for this. I didn't even bring any. And it didn't occur to me for a second to apply waterproof mascara for a movie starring Paul Rudd. After all this was a comedy---this was a film that I was going to laugh at and feel even a little guilty for finding so funny. This was not a film that was going to make me sob uncontrollably. Hah! If you we're sitting next to me you would have thought I was watching my own private screening of the Bridges of Madison County. I don't know why it hit me so hard. Perhaps I was hormonal. Perhaps it was because I didn't see it coming---but, when I learned that this 40-something hot mess of dysfunction was pregnant I couldn't control my tears. My boyfriend was concerned, "are you okay?" "Uh-huh," I sniffed, "I'm fine."
My most recent post-cinematic ennui came from the erudite English comedy directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith, Quartet. I REALLY didn't expect this one to gut me as it did. But it did. I was mostly fine during the movie. Yeah, I knew that the unmarried women with Alzheimer's who never had children was sort of getting to me as I watched it. And, yeah, I cried a little bit at the happy ending. However, the hell of this one was more of a time-delayed deal. It was one the way home when I started to think about what would happen to me when I am old. Yes, I KNOW that having children is absolutely no guarantee against isolation and loneliness in old age. But I do have an 89-year-old mother who likes to tell me how much she worries about me being alone when I am old. So, I sort of lost it. I cried for my future self. I wanted Keith to promise to eat well and exercise and do everything he could so he wouldn't leave me here all alone ( I made him make the same promise after we watched Iron Lady). As soon as I got home I looked into a long-term care insurance policy.
Years ago when my snake phobia was at its peak, I used to find out if a film had a snake in it before I would agree to see it. Well, I have come along way with my snake phobia. I can now even watch Indiana Jones' movies. Snakes on the Plane is a horse of another color, that film will remain on my 'Never-ever-ever' list. Now, even though, I have come so far with my infertility grief, movies can activate grief that I don't always want to have retriggered. So, now I am thinking I might want to look into films for any signs of 40-somethings who accidentally and easily get pregnant and films in which old infertile women are old and alone and sad. You wouldn't think there would be a lot of movies with those themes in them and yet infertility sneaks up into the oddest places. Just last night on Downton Abbey there was a conversation about infertility:
Matthew: “I wonder now whether the...um…injury…might have affected my…um…I suppose I mean my…fertility, if it…may have limited my chances of fathering a child?
Sir Philip: “Well, is everything working as it should?”
Sir Philip: “Then, why do you think there may be a problem?”
Matthew: “We’re anxious to start a family. We’ve been married a few months without any…um…results.”
Sir Philip: “My dear Mr. Crawley. May I point out the word that gives you away? Anxious. Anxiety is an enemy to pregnancy. Don’t, whatever you do, feel anxious.”
Keith turned to me expectantly after that interchange. "You okay?" Yeah, I was fine. Not a single Kleenex was needed for that infertility interchange. However, I needed one a little later. But those tears were objectively justifiable and not at all personal( If you don't watch Downton Abbey you might not know what I am talking about. If you do, can you believe they killed off Sybil???).
So, what movies do you recommend that those who are Childless Not By Choice might well avoid ( or at least watch with a warning, a lot of Kleenex and only while wearing waterproof mascara)? Your recommendations might help me edit my Netflix list, and for that I would be extremely grateful. And if you have no recommendations on that front, please tell me what movie makes you cry until you need to wash your face? It'd be nice to know that I am not the only one who can cry at comedies.