Call it emotional blackmail or just good storytelling, but there’s nothing quite like romantic tearjerkers — whether forbidden love, terminal illness or just bad timing that conspires to keep our on-screen lovers apart and us sobbing.
The filmmakers behind “Me Before You” hope their film about a working-class girl and the wealthy quadriplegic she falls for might just be a worthy addition to the canon.
Here are some romantic classics to prepare those tear ducts for maximum waterworks. Stock up on tissues and get ready for the feels-so-good despair.
LOVE STORY (1970)
“Love Story” didn’t invent the tearjerker, but Erich Segal certainly indulged in the melodrama of it all to great effect in this story of a preppy Harvard guy and the feisty, not-so-wealthy Radcliffe girl of his dreams, who finds out she’s dying. Not only is it touted as being one of the first modern-day blockbusters and the film that saved Paramount, but, it’s also the one that, for better or worse, taught us the catchy, if questionable, advice that love means never having to say you’re sorry.
AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (1957)
An intoxicating rendezvous between Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr on a cross-Atlantic cruiser, the promise of a reunion atop the Empire State Building, and a series of some of the more infuriating missed connections that ever befell two human beings has made this remake an enduring classic.
THE WAY WE WERE (1973)
Is it just more tragic when opposites attract and then implode? Katie (Barbra Streisand) and Hubbell (Robert Redford) had the passion, but not the staying power in Sydney Pollack’s film. Maybe an apathetic pretty-boy and an impassioned activist weren’t meant to be after all, but it doesn’t make that goodbye any less heart wrenching.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
Ang Lee’s adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story is one of the rare films that’s heartbreaking from the start in telling the saga of a forbidden love between cowboys Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) and the public lies and lives they continue to lead while yearning for one another.
THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (1964)
It might look like a candy-colored musical dream, but Jacques Demy’s “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” packs quite a punch with its tale of a beautiful shopgirl (Catherine Deneuve) and a handsome mechanic (Nino Castelnuovo), torn apart by timing and circumstance. The tragedy is in the banality of the aftermath and the ordinariness of moving on and growing up. Michel Legrand’s luxurious score doesn’t hurt either.
THE NOTEBOOK (2004)
Nicholas Sparks has made a cottage industry out of the romantic tearjerker, but Nick Cassavetes’ 2004 adaptation of his novel about a rich girl (Rachel McAdams) falling for a poor boy (Ryan Gosling) in the 1940s somehow transcended his own worst tendencies of schlocky sentimentality.
IF YOU’RE STILL NOT CRYING...
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