10 Heartbreaking Films to Watch for a Cruel Summer
BY KASSANDRA LOPEZ
June 9, 2023
Forget “sun’s out guns out” for the summer: grab a box of tissues instead., because it’s a cruel summer: 10 sad films to watch.
Summer has arrived, and so has the desire to relax and have fun. But with summer comes love: love can lead to heartache, which is far from prototypical summer fun. However, some can relish in films and movies representing this experience, which either helps viewers cope on their own or simply show them the heartache that comes and goes in life.
Most heartaches come from love, but not all heartbreak stems from death. Sometimes, heartbreaks can come from marriage or relationships not working out and the following realities. Other times, some love is not meant to be, which is sad. Then, there are times when life is unfair, and family, friends, and loved ones are torn apart tragically. Here’s to a cruel summer of tears and heartache.
It’s A Cruel Summer: Ten Sad Films To Watch
10. ‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009)
500 Days of Summer follows hopeless romantic Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt), who writes greeting cards for a living. One day, a new employee joins the company, and her name is Summer (Zooey Deschanel). He falls hopelessly in love with her, and the film recounts the story of their love and eventual break up.
500 Days of Summer doesn’t include anyone dying, but the heartbreak lies elsewhere: in the harsh realities of love and how true love is often found randomly. It asks viewers to look back on the relationships they cling to and question whether these relationships were as good as memory dictates.
9. ‘Steel Magnolias’ (1989)
Steel Magnolias is about a tight-knit group of women sharing gossip and stories at a beauty salon owned by Truvy Jones (Dolly Parton). Tragedy strikes this friend group, and they must learn to cope.
Death is always tragic, but nothing hurts more than a mother losing her daughter. Shelby Eatenton, a diabetic, falls into a coma one day and is discovered by her husband when it’s too late. This film questions the unfairness in life and why some people are taken so soon, and it’s a question that many will ponder in tears after watching this movie.
8. A Walk to Remember’ (2002)
A Walk to Remember is one of those cheesy but traditional romances that viewers love to watch. The story is simple: bad boy Landon (Shane West) has to help out after school after getting in trouble. He meets goody-two-shoes Jamie (Mandy Moore) there, and his life changes forever. The more time they spend together, the more he falls for her. Then he discovers she has leukemia, and their time is cut short.
Although simple, this movie pulls at the viewer’s heartstrings just the right way. It’s the idea that everyone can fall in love, but not everyone loves as deeply as others do; as Landon says at the end, “Jamie and I had the perfect summer together, with more love than lots of people know in their lifetime.”
7. ‘My Girl’ (1991)
Vada (Anna Maria Chlumsky) is a young girl whose father is a mortician. Her best friend is a young boy named Thomas (Macaulay Culkin), and she is full of life and personality. Her dream is to become a writer, though her father claims it to be a fleeting hobby (as she has many).
Sounds simple, but this film is far from it. Vada blames herself for her mother’s death, and she experiences her first feelings of love for her writing teacher. My Girlis a touching story, but when tragedy strikes, she has to confront her feelings for death and loss, making it an emotional film for those who watch it.
6. ‘I Want to Eat Your Pancreas’ (2018)
I Want to Eat Your Pancreas follows high school student Haruki Shiga. This film makes it clear from the get-go that Sakura Yamauchi, a classmate of Haruki’s, dies. It also reveals to the audience that Sakura has pancreatic cancer, and the only person who knows outside of her family is Haruki. Together, Haruki and Sakura spend time together, making sure that Sakura lives life the way she wants to.
Although the viewer knows that Sakura’s death is approaching, the heartache does not stem from the fact that she has pancreatic cancer. The heartache instead comes in a sudden outburst when it is revealed toward the end that Sakura did not die from her cancer. Rather, she was murdered when going to meet up with Haruki, and it is in the fact that life’s draw of the hand is never fair. Even those who had an unlucky hand do not get a pass at the cruelty known as life.
5. ‘My Girl and I’ (2005)
My Girl and I is a Korean film that follows a man named Su-Ho (Cha Tae-Hyun) who lost the love of his life, Su-Eun (Song Hye-Kyo). He reflects on their life together, which began with Su-Eun saving Su-Ho’s life after he almost drowned. In its comedic telling of the story, this film goes from lighthearted to sad.
Although the viewers are prepared for the inevitable death of Su-Eun, it’s the journey to that point that hurts the most. For the entirety of the movie, the viewer watches the romance play out, knowing that Su-Ho will eventually end up with a broken heart in the end. Even through its cheesiness, My Girl and I will have viewers bawling in tears for a love that simply wasn’t meant to last. But Su-Ho goes on to remind the audience that “people in love can meet even after death.”
4. ‘A Man Called Otto’ (2022)
There is nothing sad about a grumpy man unless that grumpy man’s life is filled with heartache. A Man Called Otto is about an elderly man named Otto (Tom Hanks) who expresses his grievances and annoyances with the world by being unfriendly and isolating himself. For a while, Otto believes his life is purposeless without his wife. Then, a friendly woman named Marisol moves across the street, and she fills his life with excitement once more.
Although this film seems lighthearted, it is sad in the fact that Otto lives a life of loneliness. He is continuously grieving over the loss of his wife and unborn child, and the world is empty without them until he realizes that people still need him.
10. ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ (2014)
The Fault in Our Stars follows cancer patient Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and cancer survivor Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), who meet at a cancer support group. They spend their time together, text each other for hours on end (without realizing it), and share witty conversations.
Although their journey to romance is sweet, the heartbreak stems from losing one of the characters, but not the one viewers would expect. Instead of Hazel, Augustus ends up passing away after his cancer returns, and when viewers think they are prepared for his passing, the film delivers his final message through a letter to Hazel. In this letter, he speaks fondly of her, delving deep into his love for her and the beauty that is Hazel Grace. It is in his farewell that viewers can expect to shed tears.
2. Beaches (1988)
Beaches is about a middle-aged singer by the name of C.C. (Bette Midler) who leaves in the middle of a tour to return home to her friend Hillary (Barbara Hershey) after receiving a letter. On her travels back home, C.C. reminisces on her life with Hillary, including many ups and downs. Beaches is humorous as it follows the boisterous C.C., but it explores the challenges of friendship.
The story ends tragically with the viewers learning that Hillary is sick, and the audience is transported back to the present time, where Hillary eventually passes. C.C. is left with custody of her daughter. The film then ends with C.C. tributing a song to her lost friend, which C.C. sang when she met Hillary. A friendship is long lost, but the memories remain.
1. Marriage Story’ (2019)
‘Marriage Story is about the challenges of marriage and the sad yet realistic outcome of divorce. Married couple Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) struggle to find reasons to love each other enough to keep their marriage going.
This film deals with the gritty details of divorce and the hardships that come with it, like child custody. These obstacles and hardships are often a harsh and cold reality, and not everything ends happily ever after. As the film reveals, life just sucks, and sometimes, it hurts.