Here are my top ten picks of non-romance films which might make you cry but isn’t full of romances and teen dramas.
Everyone needs to cry now and then, and watching a sad or thought-provoking movie can be a great way to do so. The problem with such films is that what people find upsetting is frequently highly subjective. For example, I’ve known people who cry only when they watch happy, feel-good movies or when they see a film about a subject that is very close to their hearts. It isn’t always the films with the darkest and depressing themes that make us cry. Sometimes it’s just a lovely soundtrack, a minor victory, or a thought-provoking exchange.
However, in my experience, certain films are guaranteed to make the majority of people cry. These ten non-romance films will make you cry your eyes out, ranging from coming-of-age dramas to sci-fi thrillers and mysteries.
Warning: some of these films contain romantic relationships, but they do not strictly fit into the romance genre. This is because the main plot of these films does not revolve around a love story.
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
In the 1946 drama/fantasy ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ James Stewart plays George Bailey, a man who tries to terminate his life on Christmas Day. We see the terrible circumstances that led up to this, as well as the numerous injustices George has faced throughout his life and the sacrifices he has made for others. Clarence, George’s guardian angel, arrives to save him as he is ready to leap from a bridge and shows him what his community would be like if he had never been born. ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ will make you laugh and weep, and its message will stick with you for the rest of your life.
2. Never Let me Go (2010)
‘Never Let Me Go’ is a science fiction film based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel of the same name. This melancholy film, starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, follows three young children as they grow up at a peculiar boarding school, unaware of the awful tragedies awaiting their adult selves. ‘Never Let Me Go’ is sure to bring you to tears as it explores love, grief, and pessimism in a gloomy dystopian future that may not be as far away as it appears.
3. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Lars von Trier produces films with a profoundly melancholy tone, and ‘Dancer in the Dark’ is no exception. However, the sorrow and pity we feel for the film’s protagonist, Selma Jezkova, makes ‘Dancer in the Dark’ maybe his most disturbing work. Selma, played by Björk, is an immigrant and single mother suffering from a degenerative eye disease. Selma, who is gradually going blind, struggles to save enough money to pay for surgery for her son, who has the same problem. The sad ending of this film is one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen on film.
4. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
In the 1993 American film ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,’ Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a young boy obliged to care for his mentally challenged brother Arnie and his morbidly obese, unhappy mother. This film is extremely moving since it deals with delicate subjects in an uplifting yet frequently distressing manner. Gilbert is forced to reassess his role in the world when he falls in love with traveler Becky, played by Juliette Lewis. ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?’ is as tragic as it is optimistic in representing real-life pain and suffering.
5. Léon: The Professional (1994)
‘Léon: The Professional’ is an action/drama about Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, and her next-door neighbor Leon, a professional hitman. When Mathilda’s family is slain, Leon grudgingly accepts her as a protégée. ‘Léon: The Professional,’ starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman, is not just a wonderful picture but also an unexpectedly poignant one. Furthermore, its finale is sure to make you cry.
6. The Elephant Man (1980)
‘The Elephant Man,’ a 1980 historical drama, is based on the life of Joseph Merrick, a hideously disfigured man living in London in the late 1800s. Merrick was abused and mistreated for the bulk of his life after being displayed as the “Elephant Man” at a freak show. David Lynch’s cinematic depiction of his life is nothing short of tragic, capturing the gentle, kind character of a guy longing to be welcomed and treated like a regular person. ‘The Elephant Man’ is a film that will make you cry. It is thought-provoking and, at times, tough to watch.
7. Arrival (2016)
‘Arrival’ is not necessarily a sad film, but it is very poignant, and it falls into the category of ‘will make you weep but also ponder.’ Amy Adams plays Louise Banks, and a linguistics specialist recruited to understand the language of an extraterrestrial civilization that has recently landed on Earth in this sci-fi thriller. ‘Arrival,’ on the other hand, isn’t really about the aliens. Instead, this picture poses incomprehensibly complicated issues about time and the human capacity to choose. It also has a powerful soundtrack, including current classical compositions such as Max Richter’s “The Nature of Daylight.”
8. The Lovely Bones (2009)
The mystery/drama ‘The Lovely Bones’ may have gotten a poor response from reviewers upon its initial release in 2009, but it is, in my opinion, immensely fascinating. Susie, played by Saoirse Ronan, is murdered when she is 14 years old. She does, however, continue to keep an eye on her family and helps lead them to her killer, who has taken the lives of countless young girls like her. ‘The Lovely Bones,’ seen through the eyes of a kid, is a heartbreaking representation of loss and death that manages to be both touching and compassionate and is one of the saddest non-romance films out today.
9. My Girl (1991)
‘My Girl’ is a 1991 coming-of-age film about Vada and Thomas, two young children struggling to negotiate the different challenges of everyday life. Vada works in the town’s funeral parlor and is fascinated and scared by the notion of death, a complex subject that is handled well in this film. ‘My Girl,’ an understated yet moving song, is sure to make you tear. The connection between Vada and Thomas is very touching and cleverly shown.
10. Life is Beautiful (1997)
Without the 1997 Italian comedy-drama ‘Life is Beautiful,‘ no list of films that will make you weep would be complete. This lovely picture, set during the Holocaust, follows a Jewish father’s struggles to protect his little son from the horrors surrounding them in a concentration camp. ‘Life is Beautiful,’ a funny, entertaining, yet ultimately tragic film elicits a strong emotional response in those who view it. In this thought-provoking Italian classic, the human potential to find happiness in the darkest of situations comes through, demonstrating that a non-romance film may be far more affecting and distressing than an overly sweet love story.