Films that deal with tragic death and loss are not what you’d call pleasant. But, if you’re in the mood for quality films that dig deep into emotional turmoil, this collection is a great place to start. Audiences and critics alike went for and garnered Academy Award nominations and wins by the dozen.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie
People cope with loss in many fashions as do writers. Daphne Du Maurier wrote the story and helped on the screenplay in this Nicolas Roeg film. A couple moves to Venice, Italy to forget about the loss of their daughter and get mixed up with a serial killer on the loose in the dark streets of Venice. Now that’s what I call therapy to get one’s mind off their problems. Very cool and creepy.
Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman tackle the emotional impact after their sudden breakup, and the newly divorced dad must learn how to care for his son and then face the dreaded custody battle when mom resurfaces. Written and directed by Robert Benton this Oscar winning flick (5 total) is a big fat tug at the heartstrings.
Ordinary People (1980)
Donald Sutherland, Timothy Hutton, Mary Tyler Moore
Coping with the accidental death of their older son deeply strains relations among this affluent family as the bitter mother just lashes out, the good-natured father tries to hold the family together, and the guilt-ridden younger seeks therapy after a suicide attempt. This flick came out the year after Kramer and won 3 academy awards. Robert Redford directed.
Virgin Suicides (1999)
James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst
In the 70’s two affluent parents think that the world is too evil and cruel for their five beautiful daughters, so they shelter them way too much. After the youngest of the girls commits suicide, the parents change the rules to be even more strict. When another daughter decides to rebel, both are taken out of school and their lives become full of misery and pain. This flick, directed by Sophia Coppola, is handled with equal parts humor and sorrow.
Rabbit Hole (2010)
Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart
A couple and their family cope in dysfunctional ways after their son is killed in an auto accident. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire and based on his play of the same name, this heavy subject matter is directed, oddly enough, by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwick and the Angry Inch).
Mystic River (2003)
Sean Penn, Tim Robins, Marcia Gay Harden
A recipient of two Academy Awards, this is the tale of three childhood friends who share a tragic past and are brought together by a similar tragedy resulting in the death of one of their daughters. Sadistic and thrilling, everything gets heavier and relentless as things go from bad to way worse. Directed by the guy who talks to chairs…Clint Eastwood.