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Top 10 Saddest Movies In The World

Writer: Rheus Wai Soh See

How painfully predictable it is to read about the most romantic movies you can watch with your loved ones this Valentine's Day. We might even run the risk of boring Uztazah Siti Nor Bahyah! Let's do something different. For all of you single people out there who are staying in so as to avoid the sight of lovey-dovey couples enjoying their overpriced chocolate, flowers and candlelit dinners, here's a list of 10 Saddest Movies In The World for you to seek out, with some spoilers unavoidably intact. Should you decide to join the angels after watching any of these, whatever you do, don't do the lame suicide countdown on Facebook. You deserve more class than that. Also, you make it very uncool for the rest of the depressives out there.

Quitting 昨 天 (2001)
"You're just a human being. You like noodles, eggs and nice clothes."
How sad to discover that an actor who played himself in a movie about himself trying to top himself has actually finally topped himself. True story. In "Quitting", a movie that won him Best Actor at 2002's Singapore International Film Festival, Jia Hong Shen plays himself, a failed TV actor who starts turning psychotic after years of substance abuse. His entire family tries to save him but he's so far gone, he tells everyone he's the son of John Lennon. Although the movie has convalescent undertones, it is a sad case of life imitating art imitating life, as the man leapt to his own death last year. Ex-lover Zhou Xun apparently cried, while the rest of the world asked if the burden of ambition is truly as heavy as these artiste types make it out to be. Funny how falling seems like flying – for a little while.

World's Greatest Dad (2009)
"I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone."

Why the hell is a black comedy starring Robin Williams in this list? Because it's actually a surprisingly touching drama about a loser dad whose wanker son accidentally dies from autoerotic asphyxiation (give it a Google) and he actually goes on to capitalise on it by faking a suicide note so as to avoid embarrassing his son and himself, later resurrecting his writing career and milking public pity, en route to a new life of fame and fortune. Horrific, maladjusted and oddly intimate, this is one man's R-rated journey of perversion, catharsis and redemption.

Grave Of The Fireflies 火垂るの墓 (1988)
"She never woke up again."
An international tearjerker that Roger Ebert rates as "one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made", this is an animation that is based on a semi-autobiographic novel by the same name, whose author lost his sister to malnutrition in 1945 wartime Japan. He blamed himself for her death and wrote the story so as to make amends to her and help him accept the tragedy. The story of Setsuko and Seita is slow-burn sorrow, so you have Studio Ghibli to thank the next time you see expensive Valentine chocolates and start thinking of impoverished children sucking on 'guli' (marbles) as if they were fruit drops. Buy some more lah, buy.


Dancer In The Dark (2000)
"In a musical, nothing dreadful ever happens."
Although some find it "so unrelenting in its manipulative sentimentality", a Lars von Trier movie will always be something that emotionally drains you. Winner of the Palme d'Or and also picking up Best Actress for the enigmatic Icelandic artiste Björk, this is the musical story of a Czech immigrant trying to make ends meet in 60s America. Slowly going blind from a genetic disease, she tries to save up enough from her factory job for her son to have an operation but soon spirals down a abyss of hopelessness as a victim of circumstance. So gruelling was her performance, many accounts have it that Björk never wanted to act in a movie ever again. Yippee!


Sylvia (2003)
"You probably just think I'm some ghastly American bitch, don't you?"
Academics - they're either boring or remarkably tragic. Cambridge poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath had a doomed relationship that culminated with her suicide in 1963 – and we get the crème de la crème of Fulbright frustration some 40 years later. If you thought the Winslet-DiCarpio reunion in "Revolutionary Road" was a proper nightmare of a horror movie for lovers, that's probably because you didn't watch Daniel Craig and Gwyneth Paltrow in "Sylvia". A lifetime of failed careers, extra-marital affairs, dirty dishes and crying babies – come and preview your married life here within this DVD itself today, all under 120 minutes. Woohoo!



The Hours (2002)
"I've stayed alive for you... but now you have to let me go."
This movie won Nicole Kidman her first Oscar and made certain the industry projection that a beautiful actress can only win if she wears a prosthetic nose and plays an "ugly" role. Stephen Daldry's "The Hours" from the 1998 Michael Cunningham novel of the same name, is a stream-of-consciousness gem of a drama that puts you in the sort of jolly good mood reserved for, say, a terminally ill patient who just won the lottery. It's a film where everything is beaten and broken; and that suicide is a welcome relief to the tedium of disease, dreary existences and stifling social expectations. Drown yourself in a river near you today – but only after you've prepared breakfast for the kids.

Jean de Florette & Manon des Sources (1986)
"It's not me that's crying. It's my eyes."
The next time you're at the florist's, spare a thought for the men who died bringing you those flowers. Of the world's best loved non-English language films is a two-parter - the harrowing family tale involving a city hunchback's crushing defeat to two scheming farmers and his beautiful daughter (Emmanuelle Beart) who grows up to avenge him. Claude Berri's stylish and disciplined adaptation has stood the passage of time and if not one of the saddest movies ever made, is definitely one of the greatest. Themes you can expect are greed and unrequited love. You'll never look at carnations the same way again.




Breaking The Waves (1996)
"Everyone has one thing they're good at. I've always been stupid, but I'm good at this."
You know how they say that you have to be careful what you wish for? This is a powerful story that is so unbearably depressing, your subconscious tries to remember as little of it as possible, for fear that you might carry forward some of these emotions into your life. Watch your heart go into the sink and get flushed down the toilet, as naïve simpleton Bess McNeil (Emma Watson's debut performance) meets and falls in love with oilman Jan – only to have him returned to her in the disabled state after an accident aboard the rig. She blames herself because she prayed hard for his return and now she's really got it. Jan forces her to have sex with other men since he couldn't – and they connect emotionally via the details of her sexcapades that she shares. How's that for a dinner topic?

Lilja-4-Ever (2002)
"You look like shit. Go put on makeup."
Watching any 16-year-old girl *dream* of working the IKEA meatball section somewhere in Sweden, only to end up a Russian whore in some pimp's basement, is going to get you feeling a little down. It is a film with disused buildings and abused emotions – contrasted against a steady stream of broken promises. Lukas Moodysson's "Lilja-4-Ever" deserves its place in the annals of movie misery indeed.





Cries And Whispers Viskningar Och Rop (1972)
"How have I managed to tolerate you so long and not say anything? I know of what you're made - with your empty caresses and your false laughter."
What sad movie list is complete without at least one entry from The Swedish Grief himself – Ingmar Bergman? Set in a mansion at the turn of the 19th century, we see two sisters watch over their third sister on her deathbed, torn between fearing she might die of the cancer that is eating her and hoping that she will. There's even a bonus scene of FGM (female genital mutilation) thrown in. Are you having fun yet? Happy Valentine's!

 


Cinema Online, 14 February 2011

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