Films have the power to make us feel many things, inspiring reactions from joyful laughter, fury and empathetic embarrassment to ugly crying.
The four films listed below will definitely cause tears for some people, as they surely did for me. There are so many films that can evoke emotion in audiences, but I haven’t seen every film, so those in this article are only ones that I have had experience with—specifically, they all made me bawl my eyes out.
1. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”
You want to talk about a movie that will make you shed tears for hours afterward, then “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is it. The film is centered around an eight-year-old boy named Bruno, whose dad is a Nazi commander during the Holocaust. Bruno’s family is moved to a house near a concentration camp, though Bruno has no knowledge of what is happening in the war. There, he befriends another eight-year-old boy through a barbwire fence named Shmuel—a Jew who is stuck in a concentration camp.
Throughout the film, Bruno struggles with understanding why Shmuel is dressed in striped pajamas, why he can’t leave the “farm” Bruno believes Shmuel is on and why Shmuel is treated differently than him. Bruno also has a difficult time grasping what his father does for a living, other than that he is a soldier. Due to Bruno’s innocence and forced ignorance of the grave situation that is happening around him, the film draws out your tears as you see Bruno start to lose some of that innocence. The ending (while not spoiling anything) is utterly heartbreaking, leaving anyone with half a heart weeping. I cried so hard at this film that I was literally shaking and shivering after I watched it; I never had such a visceral and raw reaction to a film before.
Even though the Holocaust was a gruesome and terrible time in history, it’s one thing to read about it in a history textbook and another to see it through the eyes of a child, which really allows the film to showcase the horrors of the Holocaust and causes more tears to flow.
2. “Marley and Me”
Any animal lover will know that “Marely and Me” will make you cry. The film follows a couple, John and Jenny Grogan, throughout their life together, including marriage, kids, job struggles and one messy dog, Marley. Marley, as to be expected from a dog, gets into trouble all the time, whether it’s humping a dog trainer’s leg or causing havoc by tearing off decorations from a Christmas tree only to run through the house with the mess he caused in his mouth.
The husband John, who’s a reporter, receives the opportunity from his boss to write a column about everyday life, and after being stumped about what to focus it on, decides to write about Marley. Most of the film has a relaxed and fun vibe—watching a cute dog for an hour and half is never boring—but there’s just one part of the film that will cause ugly puffy eyes and humongous tear drops to fall down your face.
The film allows for a connection to grow between Marley and his people by showcasing John and Jenny’s everyday life. They go through typical things most middle-class Americans can relate to. From money issues, discontentment at work and the hassles of children, to happier moments such as playing in the snow with the kids and snuggling with the dog when distress rolls in, the film is grounded in a familiar reality that makes it easy to fall in love with the Grogan family, and especially with Marley.
As you watch Marley age, you’ll see his puppy cuteness and the messes he makes and feel the feels when he comforts his family, but you’ll also witness him grow old and slow down due to arthritis and deafness. The inevitability that Marley will age faster and die sooner than his human counterparts is what gets the tears coming out quick.
3. “Me Before You”
For the romance lovers, “Me Before You” is a great film to bawl over while eating Rocky Road ice cream and chocolate bar after chocolate bar. “Me Before You” is a lesser known film, but it still carries a lot of weight, as it deals with the concepts of love, loss and what it means to be truly happy in life. Louisa “Lou” Clarke gets a job working for a really rich family, taking care of Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who once lived a very active lifestyle. Lou is there to make Will laugh and do other simple tasks, such as watch movies with him, since Will has a male nurse dealing with the more extreme aspects of his condition, such as taking him to the bathroom.
Over the course of the film, it is no surprise they start to have feelings for each other, though Will believes that he can never be truly happy without the use of his limbs, thinking he isn’t the complete man he once was; therefore, he won’t be able to provide anything for Lou like he wants to.
The film starts to draw tears out of the eyes as Lou struggles with Will’s cynicism, while Will encourages Lou to live her life to the fullest since he thinks he can’t anymore. The stress the two characters go through while figuring out their love for each other is truly heartbreaking, as they want to fully love and give themselves over to each other, but Will is holding them back, not because of his disability, but because of his mindset. The ending (again, without spoiling anything) is surprising—one that the audience might not be expecting and which will lead to many salty tears.
4. “Inside Out”
The whole family can get a good cry over “Inside Out,” the animated film that focuses on the specific emotions people have in their minds. Riley, an eleven-year-old girl, is dealing with the emotions Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, which take control over her life when her family moves to San Francisco. Once Joy is taken out of some of Riley’s core memories, and Joy and Sadness are lost in the storage area of long-term memories, Riley is left only with Anger, Fear and Disgust. The last three emotions leave Riley struggling to face her time in a new city, attending a new school and losing her old friends.
The tears come for the audience when Riley finally breaks down and cries once Sadness and Joy are returned to Riley’s center of operations. Riley, trying to be happy about the move and failing, and only showing Anger, Fear and Disgust about her new surroundings and life, can finally let go and cry over her situation so she can learn to be happy, allowing Joy to enter her mind again. “Inside Out” really gets the tears flowing as Riley cries, effectively showcasing to the audience that all people need to cry in difficult times before happiness can return again.