Too Close for Comfort: The Movies That Hit Way Too Close To Home
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Too Close for Comfort: The Movies That Hit Way Too Close To Home

By Pajiba Staff | Seriously Random Lists | August 13, 2013 | Comments ()


We’ve talked about movies we relate to, and we’ve talked about movies we won’t be watching again. But, watching a movie I describe below, I realized there was an uncharted area in Pajiba listory — the movies that hit us way too close to home. It’s a very specific movie-watching experience, one that is at once cathartic and too painful. To see your experience played out onscreen, it’s a nice reminder that you’re not alone; but, you’re still viewing painful reminders of how wrong it all went.

These are the movies that hurt. — Courtney Enlow

Side Effects: Before the first game-changing twist in Steven Soderbergh’s psychological “thriller,” Side Effects seems like a typically maudlin indie film about the debilitating aspects of depression and drug dependency, prescription or otherwise. The most insightful addition to the story is Jude Law’s portrayal of a doctor who is far too dependent on kickbacks from Big Pharma to really give his patients the help they need. This is an issue that is largely ignored by the public but too easily rends asunder otherwise innocent lives and families. I could relate to Channing Tatum’s growing frustration and sense of helplessness as his fictional wife sunk deeper with the aid of a medical professional, and all too well. Having grown up with a father who spent the better part of 13 years addicted to painkillers, like Rooney Mara’s in the film, my dad’s dependency was unfathomably debilitating. On pills, Mara and my father slept constantly and lost their jobs, before entering distressing fugue states they will never remember. No amount of pleading from their spouses, Tatum and my mother, respectively, could stop them from doing the one thing they mistakenly believe is making them better, healthier people. And then the twist. From my own past, I should have seen it coming. While the only lasting scars from my dad’s drug days are emotional, it could have easily turned out as dire and bloody as Mara’s. It was painful and heartbreaking to watch, but it was also exhilarating to finally see a movie tackle this subject with a degree of terrifying realism that is usually ignored in favor of pat morality lessons. Of course, then the other twists start piling up so much, that first one’s power is muted in the movie’s final moments. But the movie haunts me still, long after the credits rolled. How close the story came to a distressing greatness. How close my own life came to matching it. — Rob Payne

Smashed: We settled in for a movie night, my husband and I. We hadn’t yet seen Smashed, but we had heard great things and, given the subject matter, we knew we’d relate. But, I didn’t know how much.

The thing is, like with most movies about life-ruining addiction, filled with images of the main addict engaging in dangerous, damning behavior indicative of a major problem, my husband didn’t actually feel that connected to the characters during those scenes. And for good reason — he doesn’t remember those moments of his own life. It’s the bright side of recovery — there’s stuff you get to not remember. But I don’t have that ability. I remember everything. And watching this movie was like seeing those memories played out on film, with my husband played by two people — Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Paul.

Possibly the part that hit me the hardest was just that — the absence of the suffering spouse character that often permeates these movies but rarely gets it quite right in my estimation. (I already talked about the one that did.) But, simply by not including that character, this movie depicted what that time felt like — like I wasn’t there. I watched these characters self-destruct, no way to reason with them, no way to save them, and that’s what my life was for five years. A life where I wasn’t a character in his addiction drama.

It’s been nearly three years since my husband got sober. He’s doing so well. I, on the other hand, am still broken. I may always be. And, in those peaceful moments where I forget that, where I too am doing well, all it takes is a movie like Smashed and I’m right back where I was. — Courtney Enlow


Steel Magnolias: I had seen the 1989 dramedy Steel Magnolias before the fall of 2000, and multiple times at that. But catching the Herbert Ross film, based on Robert Harling’s 1987 play, on TV one afternoon when I was 16, I saw it differently. I’ve been unable to watch the movie in its entirety since. No, I don’t know what it is like to lose a child, but I did lose my best friend that fall in a car accident. Watching Julia Roberts as Shelby made me think of my friend, and my young mind clung to all the similarities between them. Shelby is a nurse; my friend, also 16, wanted to be a nurse. Shelby loves the color pink; so did my friend. And Shelby does not always get along with her strong-willed mother, M’Lynn (Sally Field), who only wants the best for her equally stubborn daughter. My friend and her mother were the same. As soon as Shelby collapses at home from kidney failure and M’Lynn is shown speed-walking through the hospital to be at her side, I have to turn away. I can’t keep watching. I can’t help but picture my friend’s mother, running to the site of the accident not too far from their home on a rainy November Saturday, desperate to know if her daughter, the oldest of four siblings, was OK. During the funeral scenes, I can’t not picture her mother at the graveside. But I also picture myself and my friends — a group of young women, arms linked, remembrance ribbons pinned to their sweaters, still reeling from how quickly everything had changed. M’Lynn wouldn’t make it without her friends. I wouldn’t have made it without mine. M’Lynn’s monologue at Shelby’s casket hits every emotion that stems from death beat for beat: You’re devastated, but you also want to hit something. Steel Magnolias is beautiful. And it is real. — Sarah Carlson

Tiny Furniture: Tiny Furniture was a film that hit me at exactly the right time, and I’d never seen a chronicle of my life laid out so clearly. I, too, was a less-than-hot girl who was a year or two out of college with a useless artistic degree, flailing about with my life, liking guys who didn’t like me back, and the similarities went on and on, as if we were all living identical lives. For every movie that felt kinda close, this was thoroughly modern and absolutely accurate to the place that many of my friends found themselves in as well. From the conversations to the situations and relationships, Tiny Furniture moved me immensely, and I was an early champion of the film and Dunham’s work, stunned that no one else had ever put these very normal and (to me!) culturally pervasive incidents on film.

Lena Dunham and I are exactly the same age, and have had very, very similar experiences in our lives. Except she found a way to turn it into something real. Her stories, which are, in a way, my story, have found a place in the world, and I thank her and curse her for that. — Amanda Mae Meyncke


Lost in Translation: Lost in Translation played festivals throughout 2003 before hitting theaters that fall. When it came out, I was a senior in college, and I was absolutely ready to put school behind me. I was ready to ditch blue books and Scantrons, papers and assigned reading; I was ready to forget the professors who wouldn’t stop talking to me like a child. Most of all, I was ready to move from the small Texas town where I attended college to Los Angeles, where I knew I had to be. I spent the spring of 2003, when I was a college junior, at an L.A. program where I took a few classes, interned as a script reader, and fell in love. It wasn’t real love, but I wouldn’t know that until later. The first ones are never the right kind of real, anyway. But I was in a new place and trying a new life and intoxicated at how many possibilities the world seemed to hold then, and part of it had a lot to do with falling awkwardly in love with someone I would never really be with, though we still talk and still value each other. That connection was a fierce one, so strong that leaving L.A. to return to Texas for one more year — one more year until I could go back to California, where she’d stayed, and see what might really happen — was grating and uncomfortable. We talked on the phone constantly, and I spent a lot of that school year dealing with the basic low-level emotional turmoil that’s endlessly fascinating to 21-year-olds and laughable to everyone else.

And then I saw Lost in Translation. A movie about a man and a woman who meet in a place far from both of their homes, and who, in their time together, establish a connection they can’t quite define but whose presence seems to change something in both of them for good. It was too much, too soon, too close, too real. It was just too me. At the end, when Bill Murray whispers in Scarlett Johanssson’s ear, I thought I understood what he said. I made out words of comfort and support. I’m not lying: I completely believed I heard him say something, and for a few days I actually held what he said close. But then, somehow, it grew fuzzier, and I couldn’t quite remember it. It was there, but I couldn’t reach it. Later, when I saw the film on DVD, I switched on the subtitles to see what he says, but it just said something like “[Indistinct mumbling].” Basic searching — or whatever passed for it in 2003-2004 — didn’t help, either. But I’d have sworn when I saw the movie that I heard every word he whispered. It didn’t even occur to me until later that it was an intentionally vague moment; not until I talked to other people did I realize that they hadn’t heard anything. They’d just heard whispers. But not me, not then. I heard every word. Every word I wanted to hear, or to say, to have said, or to have said to me. Every word that would have made things easier. Every word. — Daniel Carlson


The Descendants: When I read The Descendants, I found it a depressingly accurate description of the death of a loved one: the world doesn’t stop, they don’t become perfect, you still have to go out and be in the world, and in the midst of the horribleness you can have good or even great moments. While the movie was far from perfect, I felt that it captured that aspect of the book very well. Elizabeth King didn’t become a better person, or mother, just because she was dying. Her daughters had to grieve her without being able to resolve their hurts. Her husband had to grieve her while discovering new betrayals, and handling a real-estate deal that had been years in the making. There was no tearful bedside resolution, no forgiveness or heart-felt confessions. No final, beautiful moment that a family can cherish to get them through the loss of their loved one. Elizabeth King’s life simply ended, and the lives of the people who loved her went on. It is terribly un-cinematic and frighteningly real. — Genevieve Burgess


This Boy’s Life — My upbringing was dramatically different from the upbringing of author Tobias Wolff, whose memoirs were adapted into the Leonardo DiCaprio/Robert DeNiro movie, This Boy’s Life. Wolff came of age in the ’50s, and I came of age in the early ’90s; Wolff had an abusive father he wanted to escape, and I lived in home I wanted to escape — not because of a terrible father, but because there was a hole in the ceiling of my home where expired and moldy non-perishables leaked out from the attic, because the house was heated with a box fan perched behind a gas stove, because my bed was a box spring on the floor, and because the stray animals that came in and out of our home left their shit behind, which was dried and matted in every corner of the house.

Like Wolff, we both came to an epiphany that the only way out was through college. Mine came the morning a cockroach climbed out of my cereal bowl. That was the day I decided I would apply, I would be accepted, and I would escape, and like DiCaprio’s character in This Boy’s Life, the day I received my acceptance letter to college was the best day of my life because it meant that I would finally be free of poverty. “I reached through the flames and took it, and I never looked back. ” — Dustin Rowles


Mommie Dearest: A recent segment on This American Life about a young man who fled an unhappy childhood to seek out his favorite author, Piers Anthony, ended with this quote from Anthony on unhappy childhoods:

“One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not. We who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs, or seem to seek them. Who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors. We are not that way from perversity, and we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.”

So that’s my thing. The thing that cuts into my heart. Those of you who had happy childhoods may not understand, and there are certainly plenty of people who sport a “get over it already” attitude. Sure, okay. But I’d like you to imagine your life without the foundation of support, affection and understanding you had growing up. (I know many of you are already there.) Without that baseline encouragement, without someone to fit you with the armor and skills you’d need to grow up and face the world, the whole world falls apart. And I don’t like talking about this in public. I really, really don’t. But that’s what we’re here for, right? To talk about the uncomfortable things? So that’s my thing. My home life was terrible, my mother was an alcoholic and I grew up with the notion that I was completely worthless. And, of course, there are people who have it worse. The world is crowded with people who have it worse. And my mother, at her drunken, sneering worst, used to refer to herself as Mommie Dearest. So, no, that fun campy movie that everyone loves to reenact? I can’t watch it. It’s too close. — Joanna Robinson


Requiem For a Dream: Requiem For a Dream, the film about addiction by Darren Aronofsky, is a piece of cinema that’s scientifically designed to mess your shit up. Aronofsky has a talent for shocking imagery that somehow manages to tow the line between grotesque and artistic. The pencil scene in Pi and hell, most of The Black Swan, are evidence of this fact. While the vast majority of the people who have viewed it can probably legitimately claim some kind of trauma, I’m betting most didn’t view the film while in rehab themselves, with a recovering heroin addict.

I was a difficult teenager. While my peers would openly defy their parents, often with shouted treatises regarding fairness and how it usually wasn’t, I was, on the surface, a much more acquiescent type. I would agree to all of your rules and regulations and then, promptly and with as much deviousness that I could muster, follow absolutely none of them. This is why when I was caught for the second time smoking pot and ingesting hallucinogens with startling regularity, my parents forced me to sign a contract promising I would quit such behavior while living under their roof. Which led to the third time and the ultimatum that I was presented with. I would attend a yearlong inpatient rehab, or I was no longer welcome in their home apart from holidays and the random Sunday afternoon dinner. It wasn’t without precedent. I had attended, and gamed my way through, an outpatient rehab as a condition of my original living at home contract.

Rehab was a sobering experience to say the least, and one of the guys I ended up becoming close friends with was a recovering heroin addict. Not the cool Robert Downey Jr. kind, but the shooting up in McDonald’s bathrooms and stealing shit from Walmart to finance your habit kind. The stories he told were bone chilling and starkly astounding. He and I were in a choir together while in recovery. We traveled the country for two months out of our year of time in the program, singing in churches about how we were “cleaning up what we messed up” and telling moving stories to rapt congregations about how we were sorry for all the bad stuff we’d done and wanted to make it right, and please don’t do what we did. One of the legs of the trip coincidentally ended up being nearby to my parents’, and they generously offered to house a few of us while we were in the area.

That’s how he and I ended up watching Requiem for a Dream on a tiny television in my darkened bedroom. We both cried more than once. I remember the scene where Jared Leto shoots up in an infected vein. I watched with horror and then turned to my friend, who simply said, “I’ve seen that happen before.” Just the knowledge that he had lived a version of that film brought the whole thing home for me in a way no other movie has affected me since. When the final credits rolled, my soul felt empty. Not just bruised or sullied, but missing entirely. That hole scared the hell out of me. The feeling can still be summoned with some concentration and focus, and each time the emptiness has a face and a human component to it that scores the quick of me with precision. I’ve never watched it again, and never will. That film shined a light on something inside of me that I have no desire to open up ever again. — Mike Roorda

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Rob

    Great stories - very touching. I happily, cannot really think of a film that was close to home. But i can remember when I was younger and a flatmate and myself went to see Awakenings with Robin Williams in it.
    We only saw that cause nothing else was worth seeing, and by the end of it when Robert de Niro's character reversed back into his catatonic state we found ourselves both crying. As kinda 'hard' teenagers it sure surprised us both and was very uncool, but I still remember to this day ( it was 25 years ago) thinking how lucky I was and well off compared to others. Gave me a reality check which I needed back then.

  • go_nelly

    Awakenings was the first movie i ever cried at in the theater.

  • MrSatyre

    Being a globe trotter and having visited Japan many times, I found Lost In Translation to be utterly incomprehensible. ScarJo in particular doing her usual non-acting routine of eternal boredom. She's in Tokyo, for God's sake, nd she spends most of her time pouting and in her room? And Bill acts like an equally bored bump on a log. They might as well have both been stuck in Kansas City, Missouri for all the interest they emoted.

  • Liz Leyden

    "The Descendants" premiered in my area 3 months after my father died suddenly, 9 days after cardiac surgery, and 4 days after Christmas. He died weeks after my mother, and we were still trying to figure out how to divide her stuff (my parents had been separated but not divorced for over 20 years, and Mom had no will, which further complicated things). I've heard that it's a great movie, but I can't bring myself to watch it.

    "The Last Exotic Marigold Hotel" also hit close to home. Part of it was the fact that my father loved to travel, and lived in Asia for a while. I could totally see him going for that. Part of it was the fact that I've worked in Assisted Living, and I know all too well how old age is outsourced.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Not a movie, but as a trans woman who was raped in a male ward in juvey, there's a certain episode of Law & Order SVU that guest starred Kate Moennig that I just CANNOT watch through to the end. If you've seen it, you can guess why.

  • Frankly

    Not as heart-rendering as these stories, but in 1998 my cheating, smug, ahole indie record store owning live-in boyfriend walked out, like literally came home and said "I'm leaving" and walked out, on me and our 2-year-old daughter. Then in 2000 I head to the theater and walk into "High Fidelity." My then boyfriend (now husband) and I stared opened-mouthed at the screen for 100+ minutes. That was the douchebag, alright. Except unlike the movie where John Cusack's Rob pulls his shit together in real life that never, ever happened.

  • mc-rox

    Thanks for the amazing read from all of you posters and commenters. What comes to mind most is the word brave while reading. This may be a corny and cheesy thing to say but Stay Brave you all. This is such a great place to come to every day. Thanks Pajibans.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    The Descendents gets me every time. It is so funny and heartbreaking all at the same time. And it is an accurate account of losing a loved one. There is no dramatic catharsis, just yep... that happened. When we found out my mom was brain dead after an aneurysm, my sisters were fighting and yell-crying at each other, a lady stopped me in the hallway of the ICU and said something about being sorry about my mom. I just walked past her and said "hell, we all gotta go sometime." I feel kind of bad now because she was some kind of social worker whose job it is to talk to the grieving family. Of course she thought I was losing it, but that was just my way of dealing with loss. Some people are going to fall apart and some people have to be strong so they can help the ones falling apart. And you are mostly going to need a beer or vodka, or as in the Descendents... some mother f-ing ice cream.

  • My grandmother had just passed away in hospice care about three weeks before I saw The Descendents. It was so true in so many ways, and maybe the most accurate portrayal I've ever seen of someone slowly dying - even down to the hands contracting into claws. It really hit home for me, too.

  • TheOriginalMRod

    Yep my moms fingers were so black and blue from blood samples being taken it was ridiculous. Oye. What wonderful fun.

  • Less Lee Moore

    Amazing post and comments. I've got a lot of these kinds of movies, but GHOST WORLD, in particular, really got to me because it was eerily similar to the dynamic between me and my (at the time) best friend. I also remember seeing PERMANENT MIDNIGHT after a friend had died of a heroin overdose and being haunted by the idea of what he might have gone through before he died. And I'm sure I'm not alone but the rape scene in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Swedish version) was incredibly hard to watch. Not that my own experience was so violent, but the aftermath was much the same.

  • go_nelly

    yes, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version), DEFINITELY. i saw that one at a theater here in town that shows indie and foreign films. and i remember intense feelings washing over me like waves, overheating, heart pounding. not only the rape scene, but any of the ones with her and that creepy conservator. i saw it way before the films became popular, before anyone had even suggested an American remake... and i hadn't read the books, so i didn't really know what the story was about and went in completely unprepared. excellent film, but had i known what was coming, i probably wouldn't have chosen to watch it in a public venue. more than one person actually got up and left the theater. i refused to watch the American version, not because of the subject matter, just on principle... pissed me off that they felt the need to remake them. no way whatever they did it could be anywhere near as good as the original.

  • trixie

    All of you are amazing. Thanks for sharing.
    My movie is also Steel Magnolias.
    When I was in high school a friend of mine's brother was murdered by another girl at our school. This girl was mentally unstable and we all knew it but her parents were unwilling/unable to do anything about it. The night after he died a group of us were at his parents house and his mother was sitting in a rocking chair holding one of his teddy bears in her lap. She was just sitting there rocking and stroking the bear. Lights on, no one home. For some reason she stood up and the bear fell on the floor and she just started screaming "My baby!" over and over again. (Even now, almost 30 years later I can hear that scream in my head.)
    When my friends and I left their house we all went back to mine and just tried to sort out what the hell had happened and how were we supposed to deal with this shit? For some, the only way seemed to be to cut all ties to anyone that in any way reminded them of what happend that day and the days following it. I never spoke to my friend again after her brother's funeral.
    My mom and I watched the movie together when it came out on pay-per-view and when M'Lynn loses it at the graveside I completely came apart. My mom was crying too, but for different reasons. I never told her what happened that night at my friends house. All I could think about during that scene was my friend's mom, the rocking chair and that teddy bear.

  • e jerry powell

    The really bad all-around thing about Mommie Dearest was how poorly it represented the overall relationship between Christina and Joan. The bad times made for a fittingly over-the-top drama for Joan Crawford, but giving so much weight to the negative parts of Christina's upbringing did a disservice to both women.

    A fun film to watch as long as one starts off with the skepticism that a highly fictionalized "fact-based" narrative requires.

  • LwoodPDowd

    Swingers. The fucking calls the night of getting the phone number. The first voice mail, trying to correct after leaving a bad one only to make it worse, then trying to fix that. Fuck, fuck fuck, fuckity fuck fuck fuck! So goddamned painful. She must have saved the voicemails and somehow played them for Favreau.

  • June Velcro

    Revolutionary Road. It was like watching a film of my life and of the break up of my marriage, complete with all the ugliest things about myself being written all over my face while I watched it. I started crying about 30 minutes into it -- not lady-like, silent tears crying, but messy, ugly sobbing, and didn't stop until I fell asleep that night. Brutal.

  • go_nelly

    two films come to mind for me. and i must be in a weird sharing with strangers mood so here goes:

    the first one is Towelhead, an indie flick i watched by myself a few years ago. i'd be lying if i said i remember how the whole thing went, or all the various subplots. but i vividly remember the hot mess of feelings it left me grappling with... like i'd had some sort of medieval barbed weapon lodged in my chest for years and years, and i was just fine with it stuck there as is... but then this movie went and grabbed the handle and gave that sucker a good twist. i would think (hope) this film would be disturbing to anyone who watches it. but for me it got personal. there were several things about it that resonated, but what probably did me in was being reminded that i lost my virginity at age 14 to the 19-year-old guy who lived next door, who i'd been crushing on since the year before when i was in 8th grade and he was a senior in high school... and very much like in this movie, it was during the Gulf War, and yes, he told me he was about to join the army... i know, I KNOW. *still banging my head against the wall* but cut me some slack, 14-year-old girls aren't exactly known for possessing wisdom and discernment, especially when it comes to charismatic college boys. and they're too young and naive to understand how something like this could affect them later. the douchebag never did join the army, btw. ANYHOW, i think Towelhead tells an important story... and especially if you have daughters, i recommend watching, even though it's bound to make you squirm.

    the second is a movie i don't remember ever hearing about in theaters, but i caught it by accident on HBO some night i couldn't sleep a few months ago. it's called, One Day, and stars Anne Hathaway (who i'm not a big fan of, but i liked her in this). similar to the Forrest Gump and Jenny phenomenon somebody else already posted about on this thread, it's about two friends, a guy and a girl, who obviously have some sort of bizarre connection that keeps them coming back to each other over and over again throughout the years. he's a total playboy and an addict, but also fun and charismatic, and it seems he does kind of love this girl and hold her in particularly high esteem (especially compared to how he thinks of and treats other women) except for the fact that he's way too selfish to TRULY love anyone... and she's the responsible, kindhearted, witty and intelligent school teacher type, ever hopeful that this guy is going to wise up and leave his loser ways (including how he never stops to think about the consequences of his actions or what he does to others). she sees the best in him though; she sees his heart, even if he clearly doesn't think very highly of himself. at least that's how i'd describe it. or rather, that sounds like the sort of thing i've said to defend not kicking a guy like that to the curb in a reasonably smart amount of time. most of this film felt like watching old home movies of my best friend and me growing up. him drinking day and night and trashing his life... despite my pleas for his health and wellbeing (and my own sanity). him sleeping with more girls than, well numbers you might expect if he were a rockstar or professional ball player, or Barney Stinson, but not so much from an average looking Dutch-boy who'd barely ventured outside his hometown in Michigan... and me mustering the strength of a saint to be cordial to random girls of the week, since i practically lived at his place. then inevitably the guy in the movie gets some girl pregnant and tries to settle down and "do the right thing"... because, well, that always works, right? let's just say it didn't work any better in real life. (i was 18 when my friend found out his his ex-girlfriend was pregnant, while he was dating someone else, and this came on the heels of him almost dying from bacterial meningitis he contracted at a party that summer. DRAMA. i was in my 20s when he decided to try the marriage thing for the first time, which he later referred to as "a failed experiment." there's more, but i just can't.) so Anne Hathaway, his loyal-to-a-fault lifelong pal (glutton for punishment?) just can't seem to give up on him, is there for him in his darkest hour always, even when she's mad as hell and probably wants to punch him in the eye more often than not. but people change, and thankfully we all grow up... in the movies, and in real life too. i'm not going to tell you how the movie ends. i'll just say that our story didn't end as good or as bad as this one. and i'm totally fine with that. i've known for many years now, that this is NOT the man i want to be with, to partner with, to raise a family with. BUT, i will always wish him the very best. despite the parts of the movie that differ from my story, One Day has officially become one of my favorite films. i would tell anyone to watch it. even just for the fact that it's written and shot beautifully, imho. plus i'm a sucker for any show or movie that can make me laugh and cry and THINK all in the span of an hour or two.

  • john allyn smith

    These Pajiba writers are talented and courageous. Thank you. Profoundly.

    I knew my movie as soon as I read the hed. It's not a very good movie, and there's nothing about my comment here that isn't drenched in shame. The movie that seemed to put my life on screen is not even a very good movie.

    "It's Kind Of A Funny Story" - A kid checks himself into a psyche ward and meets a cast of characters. I did that. No one knows. I spent a Saturday night alone and buried under depression. I disappeared on a Sunday morning. Went to the ER, and stayed in an in-patient facility until Thursday afternoon. I didn't *want* to harm myself, but my coping skills were gone. I couldn't stop thinking about dying. The psyche ward was the only option I could come up with that didn't risk leaving me maimed and even more socially awkward than able-bodied me. The docs were impotent pill-pushers, but my fellow patients were just what I needed. I met people battling psychiatric illness beyond anything I could have mustered the courage to fight.

    One friend I made there was a likable but exhaustingly flamboyant, gay, black kid of 19 years who worshipped Brittany Spears and talked all the time. I liked him, but wrote him off as a drama queen seeking attention. I felt the same when he fell out of his chair while sitting next to me at dinner on my 3rd night in-patient. Then I realized he was no-shit convulsing, vomiting, and suffering some very serious trauma. I never saw him again after that. And I am ashamed.

    Sometimes I laugh about the times I had with the friends I made there. Mostly I worry about them. And I realize that I have so much to learn about courage and strength.

    I watched the movie on a date years later. Afterward I wasn't much for conversation, and I didn't even try.

  • I don't really have any movies or TV shows that I can't watch again. There are some that I won't watch again for various reasons (terrible, didn't like the end, had no idea what was going on the entire time, etc.) but none that I -can't- in the way people described it in the article or the comments. In fact, I was reading the article and people were using words like 'harrowing' or 'painful' or 'heartbreaking' to describe these movies and I found myself thinking 'Why the fuck would you even watch these, then? Isn't there enough bad stuff out there already you don't need to go look for it in your entertainment?'

    ...And then I realize that I've seen 'Big Jim McLain' about 20 times in my adult life. Not because it's one my favorite movies(I would say it's actually one of John Wayne's weaker films)but because it was my grandfather's favorite and it reminds me of how I would stay with him when my father had to travel. Or how if I'm making spaghetti sauce, I still make it the same way that my first serious girlfriend's Italian mother showed me how to make it.

    And then I think, 'Oh, yeah, that's why.'

  • Tublave

    Field of Dreams. I'm a woman, I don't play baseball. But I did have a very contentious relationship with a father who disappeared from my life. And when KC goes out to his father at the end of the film and says "Dad, want to have a catch?" - it's over for me.

    By the way - I'm a lurker - I've never posted. But all of your stories moved me. Thank you. Movies are wonderful.

  • For me, it's What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I'm Mrs. Grape. I'm super morbidly obese, and while I'm not quite as large as she was, I'm headed in that direction. I'm terrified that I'll die and they'll be unable to remove my body without a crane. Do I want to be this way? Not really. Did I do this to myself? Yes. Is that hard to admit? You have no idea.

    I've always had problems with self-confidence and/or being rejected. A long time ago I made the unconscious decision to be fat, to give people an excuse to not like me, so it wouldn't be my fault when they inevitably didn't and the rejection wouldn't hurt as much. How fucked up is that? It's completely lunatic. Therapy helped me realize what I was doing to myself and why, and wonderful friends are supportive in my efforts to fight this battle. They help keep me on track when the confidence problems start to rear their ugly heads. It just seems insurmountable at times - for someone that has problems with delayed gratification, the thought of a years-long diet regimen is very daunting...

  • Salieri2

    I wish I had something useful to say--I've got zip, I tend to get overwhelmed by the big picture and utterly fail to cope with the small tasks, so I am the wrong person to chip in something inspiring here.

    But I wanted to mention how much I loved the family relationships in Gilbert Grape, and how fiercely protective Gilbert and his sister were of their mom and her dignity. My favorite part of the film is everything involving the three of them. Why don't I own this movie?

  • It truly is an excellent film, for the reasons you mentioned and as a snapshot of an America that is slowly disappearing. Sometimes I re-watch it to help keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak. (And who doesn't mind a little quality time with young Mr. Depp?)

  • Salieri2

    (I know, right? Back when he looked clean? And now, the bit of me that still finds him attractive & wants to hold him down and do unspeakable things to him is outweighed by the rest of me that wants to hold him down and powerwash him.)

  • calliope1975

    Mine is also from a TV show - The Mindy Project weirdly. In "Danny Castellano Is My Gynocologist" there's a part where Danny is interviewing Mindy to be his patient. It starts out funny then Mindy says something about Danny being divorced. He starts asking if she wants kids and how if she keeps waiting to have a career it'll get harder and harder. Long story a bit less long, I went from laughing to being in tears. It's a topic that's been on my mind for awhile now and it played out a big fear of mine.

    Not very profound like everyone else's stories but I do appreciate when TV/movies can affect me so deeply.

  • BeansnToast

    Thank you all so much for being so courageous and brave in sharing your stories. Thus far, my life has fortunately been void of personal hardship or trauma and for that reason, "About a Boy" is an intensely personal movie to me (and I'm a lady). No, my dad didn't write a hit Christmas song, but for a long time, my attitude toward life strongly resembled Hugh Grant's character in the movie.

    I moved to Seattle out of college for a job and I knew exactly zero people when I arrived. My company fired me after about a year and a half and I spiraled into a deep depression. Because I graduated from college void of debt, and had squirreled away a decent chunk of money at my old jobs, I could just sit and do nothing. For days and days at a time. That montage of Hugh Grant's daily activities? That was me. There were people on the outside making occasional check-ins, but it was so easy to tell little white lies and create a veneer of content. After living like this for a couple months, I had myself convinced that life "as an island" was preferable. I was in control of this life and by keeping myself away from the messy realities of the real-world, I was destined for a lifetime of conflict free bliss. I don't think it helped that I was watching a lot of TV shows that glorified solitary, damaged men.

    People like Marcus, who wore their heart on their sleeve and were lacking in self consciousness, weirded me out. And thus, they became the source of my inner ridicule. People like Marcus and his mother were like looking at open wounds, uncomfortable and completely exposed.

    I didn't meet my Nicholas Hoult, but I eventually I met my Rachel Weisz. A good looking, kind and well spoken young man. He had his own baggage, but unlike me, he was upfront and at peace with it. He gave me the love i needed at the time: love that wasn't for who I was but love that made me want to be better than I currently was. Knowing him made me realize that the small white lies I told had made me 100% bullshit. And thus, I changed. I made myself available to friends, employers and family. Now I have a life that I'm eternally thankful for, but feel completely unworthy of.

    But, I'd totally watch "About a Boy" again. It's cute.

  • Jack Read

    I've been in a relationship with the same person for four and a half
    years now, and we have been long distance the entire time. It is the
    greatest thing in my life, and also the thing that requires the most of
    me. A few years before that, I had seen Before Sunrise for the first, and until recently, only time. But there's a gesture in that movie that I've never
    forgotten, and I don't think I ever will. It's right after Jesse and Celine kiss for the first time, and they're about to do it again, and instead it turns into
    an impossibly tight hug from two people who realize how little time they have. I remember being 15 and crying and not understanding why. I'm crying now because I do.

  • Kate at June

    My boyfriend and I went to see Crash when it came out in 2005. Yes, that terrible, overwrought, mess of a movie on racism in LA.

    There's a scene where one of the cop characters pulls over a couple and sexually assaults Thandie Newton's character as part of their roadside "pat down."

    I don't cry in public. Like, ever. I lost it completely at that scene. I don't even remember processing what was happening or how it made me feel, it was like my body took over for me with the only response it had. I was sobbing, shaking, unable to stop. I had to run out of the theater and compose myself in the bathroom for about 20 minutes.

    I knew how she felt. Not the cop part, but what happened to her, the complete powerlessness, and (me projecting here) her fear that because it wasn't hold-her-down-kicking-and-screaming, no one would take it seriously as rape. This was way to close to home for me, and way way too recently so. I feel like the movie should have warned me or something.

    I actually went back in to watch the rest, but I think I've blocked everything else out. That scene is the only thing I remember.

  • AngelenoEwok

    Yes, I've been going through this thread trying to think of movies that get sexual violence right. I am a survivor and I feel like most movies and TV shows that try and portray sexual violence just end up wrapping it in horror or thriller tropes with scary music or dark alleyways, etc.

  • Wigamer

    To me, when media depicts a man being sexually assaulted, they come closer to portraying it as the violent, dehumanizing act it really is. I don't know that I've ever seen it truly, successfully portrayed that way when the victim is a woman. Either that or the rape and murder of women is so commonplace in our media that I'm desensitized to it. At this point I flatly refuse to watch any procedural in which the victims are almost always young women.

  • Wigamer

    Oh, geez--I had to think about this really hard before posting. Joanna, your post just did me in. I remember watching Mommie Dearest on cable in elementary school, just flatly amazed there was someone else like my mother in the world. Experiencing that kind of irrational rage at a young changes you in ways that you don't even realize until much later.

    And The Descendants? Gah. I watched it about nine months ago, before my dad got really ill. He just died last month, only in his early sixties. He was a lifelong alcoholic, struggled with depression, and completely ignored warning signs about his health until it was too late. Though he had only been a part of my life for about the last 12 years, I was in charge of his treatment and medical decisions, and had to make the decision to remove life support. In the two weeks leading up to that decision, a few family members accused me of "not giving him a chance to recover," though he was septic, ventilator-dependent, and mostly unconscious. It is horrible deciding to terminate the life support of someone you feel so ambiguously toward--no matter how many times the doctors told me my dad had no chance at a meaningful recovery, I very nearly drove myself crazy questioning my decisions. I cannot imagine watching The Descendants ever again without completely breaking down.

  • LadyBuggy

    I had a very similar experience. My father died at 43 from complications caused by his alcoholism. My sister and I had to make the decision to remove him from life support. It's been 7 years since my father passed away, and I've found some closure so I hope you are able to find yours as well. The Descendants is one of my favorites because of how realistically it portrays the experience of losing someone you didn't expect to lose. I wouldn't have been able to watch it again 6 years ago, but I know I could do it now. You did the right thing for a man who never did the right thing for you so I really hope you've found some peace with your decision.

  • Wigamer

    Thank you so much for your kind's honestly far more compassion than I've recieved from my own family members, so I really, really appreciate it. Since my experience with my dad so many people have told me their stories about withdrawing life support from loved ones. It's an agonizing decision in the best of circumstances. I'm so happy that you've found closure, and that gives me hope that I will, too.

  • googergieger

    Hey Mike, you might want to check out Satoshi Kon, I.E. the man Aronofsky owes EVERYTHING to.

    Anyways no movie has really hit close to home. Maybe Peppermint Candy when I was pretty suicidal.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Mommie Dearest is an ironic one because my mother was a crazy alcoholic who made her children miserable. She had some rants you simply would not believe. Wire hangers had nothing on her. The ironic part is that I read the book before I saw the movie. And I borrowed it from her. She was fascinated and horrified at the behavior of Joan Crawford as described by her daughter. But she didn't see herself at all. She still doesn't, thirty years later. So now when I see any part of that movie I just have to shake my head and laugh. It's all I can do.

    And also Terms of Endearment. That weird co-dependent relationship between mother and daughter was totally my grandmother and my mother. Only my grandmother is the one who ended up with cancer. The bad boyfriends and husbands,the moving around and changing jobs all the time? The loud arguments?That was our childhood. And somebody always has to die.I usually get teary at the scene where the little boy is acting bratty while his mother is in the hospital dying. And the grandmother hauls off and slaps him. (Totally deserved, btw).

  • DeltaJuliet

    That scene...where the mother is saying goodbye to her boys. Ok, I have tears in my eyes at work just thinking about it. It's one of my worst fears played out on film.

  • Again, my story is not coming from the same well of ground-level trauma as many, and I'm sorry--so sorry--that so many of you had to experience that.

    But the movie I can never watch again is Up. For our sixth anniversary, we went out to dinner and rented a movie, because I was so hugely pregnant with our daughter--my due date was two weeks later--that I couldn't take the prospect of sitting in a movie theater.

    That was my third pregnancy in three years, because the first two had ended in miscarriage. Basically we started crying in that opening sequence and didn't stop for the rest of the movie, and not even the dog could save us for more than a moment. For us, every single aspect of that movie became about profound loss, and we can barely speak of it without shaking our heads and changing the subject.

    We're really lucky to have our daughter, and still really sad that I lost two more pregnancies (add all of them together and in four years I was pregnant five times, including the full-term pregnancy with our daughter).

    We're not willing to even contemplate watching Toy Story 3.

  • misslucyjane

    Thank you, writers and commenters. You're amazing people.

  • Nobody

    My movie is the 2012 version of Les Miserables. I know Anne Hathaway has gotten a lot of flak from some people for her performance, but speaking from the perspective of someone who is also a prostitute, whether you like her performance or not, it was a very powerful thing to someone living that life. I was familiar with the story (the 1996 version is one of my fav movies) but had never seen a musical version of Les Mis before so I didn't know any of the songs. A couple months ago I decided to watch it one night and was doing ok until her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" and then I fell to pieces. Being a prostitute is a secret kind of thing, you don't go around telling friends and family what you have to do to get by (I am not logged in because I'm a regular Pajiban and don't want to out myself). You kind of separate yourself from it in your mind so that you can keep going. But Hathaway's song was utterly and unexpectedly devestating; it grabbed me by the hair and rubbed my face in all the emotions I normally manage to keep locked away...the shame, helplessness, despair, loneliness, fear, and most of all the grief. The emotion was so intense and all-consuming that instead of trying to escape it I found myself rewinding that scene again and again and again, crying desperately the whole time. I didn't realise until later that I spent over 2 hours re-watching that scene while staring in horror at my life and grieving. Even after I turned it off I cried for hours. I know Fantine's story is only a small portion, but I never did watch the rest of the movie.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I would like to give you a very sincere hug.

  • Catie

    "Closer": with its deception, distrust, unlikable players and conscientious dismissal of other people's feelings absolutely gutted my boyfriend and me when we watched it. In a relationship where you already don't trust one another, seeing a movie that so openly discusses infedelity and its effects ripped us to shreds, and I don't think we ever recovered. "The Glassblower's Daughter" will still render me lightheaded if I hear it.

  • mrsdalgliesh

    And this is why I read Pajiba.

  • LB

    Truly, Madly, Deeply. When I saw it, I had just lost my only sibling to cancer. I completely lost it when the main female lead sat draped around her lover's cello. I did the same thing when I had uncovered my brother's tenor sax. Still cannot watch it. Brilliant film, cuts way, way too deep.

  • bonnie

    For me, it's Wit. I saw it my sophomore year in college, five years after my mom had entered remission from breast cancer. It was like watching every single "What if?" and worst fear that I had repressed at 15 playing out on the screen before my eyes. By the end of the movie (spoiler alert: it's sad), I was curled up on the floor bawling, because I kept seeing my mom in every.damn.scene.

  • BWeaves

    There is not a single movie or TV show that mirrors my life in any way. None of them hit anywhere near home for me.

  • guest

    Guess that makes us the lucky boring people? I can't think of anything that hit so close I can't watch it again.

  • DominaNefret

    The Descendants and Fruitvale Station.
    My younger brother was shot and died in 2010, at 23.

    I saw The Descendants with a friend of mine, who said afterward that he didn't understand the character of the boy, that it just didn't seem very realistic.
    I had to stop him there and tell him that for about two months after my brother died, I had to have someone with me 24/7. This guy, who is now one of my best friends, but I had only met twice before then, pretty much spent the entire summer with me. He put his life on hold, voluntarily, to just stay with me. We watched a LOT of antiques roadshow. He went back to his place three? four? times in a two month period, for no more than 48 hours at a time. And when he went home, a friend of his (who I met through him, AFTER my brother died), would come and take his place. The two of them made sure I was never alone, and I owe SO MUCH to them.

    Fruitvale Station, I am still processing. I just remember that my friend (the same one I saw The Descendants with) had his hand on my back at the end, and I looked at him and said "It's okay, I'm okay". Then I broke down and started sobbing, right there in the theater. We had to sit for a bit before I could get up and go. It was rough.

  • hippyherb

    Your comment is the one that has made me teary. Not for the sadness of your story, but because of the beauty and compassion of your friends. There is so much shit out there, nasty and horrible people. But just when I think that I may be losing my faith in humanity, I hear something lovely about a complete stranger. Thank you for sharing.

  • DominaNefret

    It really was pretty amazing. I can only hope that if a friend of mine goes through anything similar, I will be able to show the same level of kindness that these guys showed me.

  • Mrs. Julien

    I have a friend who is going through something similar to an event I went through. It is so important to me to be able to help him or just let him know someone really understands what he is going through. I was alone in the dark with the monster; I hope that I can ease that feeling for him.

  • No Pithy Name

    I was attacked and beaten severely by gang members in 1990. Gun in the face, almost run over by own car. The next year, Grand Canyon was released. I had no idea what I was in for but it had Steve Martin so I'm in. Then Kevin Kline's character's car breaks down. I sank into the sofa when the gangbangers showed up, started to sweat, my breathing got quick and uneven and my vision went black. My wife couldn't understand what the big deal was and why was I such a wimp? I gamely kept watching. And then Martin got shot. All done, checking out now. I vaguely remember the cast looking out over the Grand Canyon at the end. I am getting the shakes just thinking about it. Yeah, I divorced that bitch.

  • JenVegas

    you guys! i want to give you all hugs.

  • yes, sometimes the movies hit too close to home. and sometimes, the writing about those movies does the same thing:

    "he doesn't remember those moments of his own life. it's the bright side of recovery - there's stuff you get to not remember. but i don't have that ability. i remember everything."

    the things i did to the people i love before i got sober...good god.

    my heart hurts.

  • Skyler Durden is not logged in

    Take this Waltz. I was in a deep depression, exhausted from the inert, unhappy marriage that I no longer wanted to be a part of. My sweet, clueless husband with no idea how unhappy I was. He did nothing specifically wrong, but I just couldn't take it any more. The scene that got me was in the restaurant. It is their anniversary and they are eating in complete silence because they just don't have anything left to say to one another. She is anguished and desperate for connection. He is fine and doesn't perceive that anything is wrong. And oh yeah, they don't have sex, and he rejects her advances until she eventually stops trying. So yeah. In a very real way, that movie changed my life.

  • apsutter

    To be fair to Lou though, he had no idea what was going on in her mind. So much of that movie hinges on her being bored and wanting excitement but not saying anything to her husband. To him it was just saying no to sex because he was working but to her it was an important moment of personal anguish. A lot of being and staying in a happy relationship is sharing just about everything and she should have told Lou what was really going on in her head and given her marriage a chance to change. I'm glad that you were able to get out and be happy because of this movie though.

  • There was such a theme throughout that movie of her ONLY attempting affection when he was busy, or when his back was turned. I mean, he was on the phone! It was so realistically infuriating.

  • Skyler Durden

    I think there is the implication that this has happened before, off-screen so to speak. When she finally breaks down and talks to him, she tells him that she's to embarrassed (TOO EMBARRASSED) to even try seducing him anymore.

    But yeah, point taken and understood.

    And my point is, when you make yourself sexually available to the man you married and he constantly recoils, it takes a toll on the soul.

  • apsutter

    Completely agreed. She acted quite cowardly at times, I think. She should have put her grown up pants on and had a serious conversation with Lou and really tried to change her marriage or at least let him know what was going on. But she hides it and has an emotional affair until she runs. And not only was she attempting intimacy when he was busy but it was clear that these throw away moments had serious importance attached to them from her end and he has no idea!

  • K. Code

    THIS, but from the other side. Shortly after our son was born, my husband began (what I imagine was) a smoldering emotional affair. As far as I know, it was a lack of courage rather than a lack of will that kept him from actually sleeping with her, which I related so closely to the circumstances that Michelle Williams finds herself in. He also couldn't bring himself to leave me until I forced him to. The panorama scene towards the end that so perfectly demonstrates the inevitable monotony that ends up characterizing all relationships (even those that start out as passionate, life-altering affairs) had me in tears. It was just after a year since my ex and I had separated, and his girlfriend was living in my former home, sleeping in a bed that I had bought for us, and they were sharing dinner off of our wedding plates. For the first time, watching that scene, I had a real sense of finality to our ten years together, and a release from the insecurity that had plagued me. I realized that I hadn't been unceremoniously exchanged for someone younger, more interesting and better - just someone different.

  • Narf

    This is not my usual handle. My story is too embarrassing to tell and seems to pale compared to other stories here. I need to get it off my chest once in a while, though.

    I just can't bring myself to watch The 40-Year-Old Virgin, even if it's a comedy and ending on a high note. I'm constantly trying to pretend that I don't care anymore about finding someone but that's a lie. I've certainly given up, though. Life's not a movie.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    It sucks to be looking and not finding, I'm not going to deny that. But I think there are a lot more people in your boat than you might imagine, not saying anything because they are also embarrassed.

  • Narf

    Yes, there are more people with my problem. It also has a name: involuntary celibacy.

  • LadyBuggy

    I have the same connection with The Descendants. The scenes in the hospital were particularly difficult for me to watch. We had to make the same decision to remove my father from life support, and I can only say it is a very surreal experience. I was also re-watching 6 Feet Under around the same time, and I can't remember which character said it (I think it was David), but he said sometimes people die when you're not exactly happy with them. That can be a very difficult emotion to reconcile.

    I recently lost my grandfather (who was a better father to me than my biological father ever was) and it's so strange how completely different the grieving process was. I watched What Dreams May Come a few weeks ago and it was so beautiful and sad and poignant and that was how I felt about my grandfather. Not those "ugly" feelings I had when I lost my father. Unfortunately, it did make me ugly cry while I was watching it with my 14 year old son. He kept asking if I was ok, and all I could say was that the movie was just so beautiful just like my grandpa.

  • cgthegeek

    I had a close friend who was senselessly murdered by the police during a routine traffic stop. So I cannot bring myself to go see Fruitvale Station. It just hits too close to home.

  • Stephen Nein

    It's not a movie, but I don't think it disqualifies me. (Because, Fuck you, that's why) I can't watch Luther because of Alice Morgan. Too goddamned close to an obsessed narcissist determined to be in your life forever. If you live through a relationship like that, your interest in seeing it dramatized is abso-fucking-lutely nil. Good performances are like LSD flashbacks, bad performances are just off-puttingly annoying.

  • apsutter

    "Take this Waltz" for sure. That movie punched me in the gut right from the start. When they're taking a shower after swimming and talking about existing relationships vs. someone new and the one lady simply says "but new things get old." That whole scene just encapsulates so perfectly the divide between the younger women who still think life could be so different/better with someone new and the older women who are secure in themselves and their lives and understand that life is all about choosing someone you really love and sticking it out through boring and uncertain times. It's funny because I've been with the same man for a decade and I wouldn't give him up for anything but I think so many women my age are going through what Margot felt. Happily married and their spouse is their best friend but lacking passion and starting to feel like "is this it?"

  • Sara_Tonin00

    the only thing I'm objecting to here is that you think the divide is older/younger based, and not simply personality-based.

  • rasputinreborn

    It is not just personality based; nor is it limited to one sex.

  • DeltaJuliet

    I do think some of it is age based though. Or maybe life-experience based. Personality-wise, I am pretty much the same as I was when I got married 13 years ago. But my views and experiences have changed in many ways. I can see myself at, say, 30, and thinking "screw this, I'm outta here", versus now at almost 40 years of age and realizing that there are things more important than "excitement". I value the stability that I have with my husband and children, as a family, even though oftentimes by darling spouse is a total a-hole. There is good and bad, with everyone.

  • Skyler Durden

    I agree re: personality not age. But I love how literal that scene was - elderly women talking to young women. It would have lost the aesthetic impact if it were, like, 30-year olds talking to 25-year olds. That lesson of "everything new eventually gets old" just slayed me. What a true and terrible thing to know.

    I do wish she hadn't peed in the pool. Nasty.

  • apsutter

    Oh yea...personality is definitely part of and Margot seems pretty immature throughout and her sister in law isn't exactly the most responsible person. I guess I was going for the fact that the older women have presumably been in longer relationships and kind of have a "been there, done that" attitude towards it. Plus with age comes experience and greater knowledge of what you want vs what you actually need and is good for you.

  • leuce7

    Mine isn't so much the one that hit home with me personally, but it's the movie whose impact I'll never forget. My father died of cancer when I was five, leaving my mom widowed with a few kids. So of course, years later, when My Life came out, I thought it would be a good idea if we saw it. Maybe I thought it would be cathartic, I don't know. What I do remember, is my mother, my strong, tough, survivor mother who nursed my dad through cancer and raised three kids on her own, break down in tears and flee the room sobbing. It definitely hit too close to home. I will forever be haunted by causing that to come about.

  • jvo

    Thank you.
    For me, it's The Help. I know, weird, but it's specifically Jessica Chastain's character (Celia) - being so happy and having so much but having nothing at the same time.

  • Archangelina Jolie

    Also, Dustin - if you read this, please know that I honestly believe you have a book in that story - maybe a novel, maybe a memoir. I don't know. But I believe it will be cathartic for you and a huge source of healing for many, many people. Please consider it.

  • $32857398

    I feel like this book could enter my list of "MUST GIVE TO PEOPLE ALWAYS", right next to Cheryl Strayed's "Tiny Beautiful Things". For fuck's sake that book's amazing.

  • alannaofdoom

    For me it's "Bridesmaids," oddly enough. When my best friend got married (and moved across the country!) I pretty much went through Annie's whole character arc - well, minus some of the digestive pyrotechnics and a flirty Irish cop, I guess. I felt betrayed and abandoned and ashamed of how not-together my own life was, and I felt like shit for feeling all of that. I laughed through the first half of "Bridesmaids" but I straight-up sobbed through the last 45 minutes.

  • Less Lee Moore

    Oh my god, I had to stop the DVD because I was crying so hard. I had a terrible falling out with a friend over a decade ago and I felt so cheated that we never reconciled the way Annie and Lillian did. Granted, I ended the friendship because it was toxic, but it still hurts.

  • mairimba

    I did not have a similar situation with a friend, but all the effed up stuff Annie was going through (work, housing situation, having your dream crushed) was really close to what I was (am in a way still) going through. Damn movie made me sob and I cursed everyone that said it was the best comedy of 2011. You forgot to tell me about that other part!

  • Archangelina Jolie

    I've been a lurker in these parts for many years and have posted only a couple of times. I wanted to just say thank you for telling your stories. That's where your art comes from, and it's sacred space.

    For me, oddly enough, one of the films that hit too close to home was "Jacob's Ladder". It seems strange that a horror movie would feel so real, but I suffered from terrible PTSD for years until I got the help I needed, and when I saw that film I was absolutely blindsided by how much it felt like a trauma-induced psychotic episode. It captured the way reality twists and warps and coils around on itself when you're losing touch with it. It showed the way that the psychosis-fueled things on the periphery of your vision - the things that skitter and crawl and whisper and titter at you - can be even more frightening if you take the time to examine them closely.

    If anyone ever wonders what someone's going through when they are having a psychotic breakdown and do unconscionable things, watch that film. It will tell you all about it.

    edit: "Breaking the Waves" shredded me like a cheese grater, but for different reasons.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Thank you for telling your story.

  • Catagisreading

    Take Shelter killed me. I haven't yet managed to finish it. A family
    member recently suicide and there is a litany of other mental health
    issues in my family and losing your mind like that terrifies me beyond
    speaking. I've seen it and Take Shelter is real.

    For me it's a horror movie. The horror movie.

  • Catagisreading

    Sorry that wasn't very articulate but even thinking about that film brings on massive anxiety.

  • mswas

    You don't have to finish it, I won't tell.

  • $32857398

    I'm going to go with a tv episode as well. I think it's the second season finale of Suburgatory. A lot of things in the show revolve around moms, but they had never really addressed the absence of Tessa's mom besides her being "cool" with it. And then on that episode Tessa was driving around thinking how okay she was with her mother not being around, because she didn't know her or needed her, and she just really didn't care if she was around or not.... and then she suddenly realized that her mother probably felt the same about her. She wasn't around because she didn't want to be. Because she didn't really spare Tessa much thought. Because her mother just really didn't care all that much about her.

    And then suddenly I was back in my kitchen holding the coffee filter, right at the moment I realized that the reason behind my father's everyday actions and words was because he just didn't really care all that much about me as a person or as his daughter.

    I really don't think I can ever watch that episode again.

  • $32857398

    Can I do one more? I'm gonna do one more. I've never told anyone about this. Again not from a movie, but a play.

    Last January my mother took me to see this play, a very famous comedy, to get my mind out of a terrible tragedy that had happened in our city, a week before we were supposed to return from travelling (I'm guessing you remember the nightclub fire in Brazil - yeah, that was my hometown). The play was about four estranged sisters who meet to organize/divide/sell what's left of the family's property after their mother's death. They argue, they laugh, they cry, they remember their youth and the whole thing's hilarious. By the end of the play they have become much closer to each other, and everyone's in good spirits.

    Except, of course, for yours truly. When it was over I was able to hold it until the corridor, then I completely broke down, crying hysterically, in front of everyone. There was of course the element of death in general that was very hard to deal at that moment, but the idea of a future time in my life when my mother's gone and my sister and I don't get along completely destroyed me. I don't want to "not be able to understand" my sister's life (and her mine) 20, 30 years from now, like my uncle can't understand my mother's. I can't put it into better words, but that little comedy completely messed me up. That's just not the future I want, and yet it seems so easy to happen.

  • mswas

    Sometimes it sneaks up on you, the pain, the hurt. You think you're just watching a movie about a little robotic boy (A.I.), and then the aliens tell him he can have just one more day with his mother, but that's all they can give him. And you sit there, silently weeping, with your husband and daughters looking at you like you've lost your mind, and all the while, you're just begging the boy, "oh take it, just take it," and dreaming of all the things unsaid.

  • brite

    A.I. is 'that movie' for me. I saw it in a nearly empty theatre (thankfully without my 6 year old(at the time) son, who would have be completely traumatised ). I was wiping the crusted tears off my face at the end when the only other person in the audience, a heavy set, long haired bearded biker type guy, stood up and announced, "well that was depressing". Understatement of the year.
    So much of that movie, especially the ending is simply heart rending, the hurts that can never be healed, the longings that can never be fulfilled, but the scene that drove me over the edge was where the mother 'releases' the boy into the woods. I'll never be able to watch this movie again.

  • Bea Pants

    Can we make a list of Pajiba comments that hit too close to home? because...yeah.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Pater Julien always signed off on the phone with "Righto". So one day, I was folding laundry and watching a Nanny McPhee movie with Little and Mr. J. when Ralph Fiennes says "Righto" and I went from 0 to Weeping in .045 seconds.

  • Yolanda Anne Brown

    Requiem for a Dream had also hit home with me, and I thank Mike for sharing his personal story. God bless you.

  • Meg

    For me it was Amour. I can not describe to you how fucked up this movie made me. I sat through the whole thing, partly in shock, white knuckled, tears just rolling down my face. I seriously thought about getting up and leaving at least twice. I will never ever ever watch it again.

    My mom died when I was 11 after having been sick for pretty much my entire life (cancer.) I feel like I'm pretty well adjusted about it at this point in my life, but watching that movie it was like I was immediately transported back to my adolescence watching my mother's slow deterioration and it's effect on our family. All the home-based hospice equipment that littered our house. The toll it took on my Dad. And that horrible feeling where while most of you is trying to be hopeful and helpful and minimally sad, there's also a part of you that starts to hate the person for being sick. Except of course you still love them too, and realize how fucked up it is to be angry at them, so you mostly just end up hating yourself.

    I have never been so affected by watching a movie before, and honestly I'll be perfectly okay if I'm never that affected ever again.

  • Meg

    Honorable Mention: the episode "The Body" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've watched that entire series probably 5 times over at this point, and it's an amazing critically acclaimed episode, and probably one of the most famous from the series, and I still skip over it every time.

  • Swiss Fox

    When my wife and I were in our first six months of dating we watched "The Body." I was stupidly (twenty-one-ishly?) unprepared for how it affected her.

    When my wife was seventeen, she found her mother's dead body lying in bed. She was the one who had to call 911 and do what the operator told her to see if her mother was still alive, if there was anything she could do to help until the ambulance arrived. She had to deal with a mother gone far too soon and continue to live in the house where she had those nightmarish experiences.

    At the end of the episode, she was understandably bawling. The episode felt like a flashback for her. There was nothing I could do except hold her and be a presence for her to hang on to, physically and emotionally. Years later, even watching the episode after "The Body" and seeing the desperation Dawn and Buffy have, the NEED they feel to have their mother back is enough to break her down again.

  • Bea Pants

    Since my dad died, I can not watch that episode without being a blubbering mess for 60 solid minutes.

  • Archangelina Jolie

    I held it together - barely - until Anya's little soliloquy. Then I was undone.

  • guest

    That speech, Willow crying, I can't deal with that episode. So good but so crushing. That speech is probably the worst in terms of sheer sadness. Dammit, I'm starting to tear up thinking about it.

  • rio

    Thank you for sharing Pajibans.

    A month before I turned 18 a friend in my class killed himself. I was very effected by it for various reasons, mostly because I could have actively done something to stop it and I didnt and the memory of that will hunt me until I finally kick the bucket, but I digress. A year later "The son's room" came out in Italy. I started weeping the moment the son dies and kept going until the very end. I loved movies but none of them had hurt me that much. The closing of the coffin, the numb walking around, everything spoke to me and just added to my despair.

    Another one is "The evening" which is not exactly a great movie. But the thing is, it's a movie about a woman who is paralyzed by her inability to make decision or more precisely is terrified to make the wrong choice and have her life ruined from it, just like her mother did. Until she finally realizes that her mother's life wasn't all that bad and it was her choices that led her to it, and her mother having her didnt ruin her life. I know it's one hell of a stupid thing to be about for a freaking 3 hours movie with every freaking amazing actress available but I know what that feels like, and I still cant fucking make decision to save my fucking life, so, you know, I can relate.

    Anyway there are plenty more and Ill probably add to this but for now, this were the first two that came to mind. weirdly enough.

  • dilwazr

    This is going to sound insane but, There Will Be Blood. I've never seen an on-screen character so close to that of my father.

  • pandapants

    No. Not insane at all. When I saw that movie, I felt a strange sense of comfort and I couldn't figure out why. A few days later I realized it was because Daniel Plainview totally reminded me of my MOTHER. I had a good chuckle about that. (I'm not emotionally tangled up with her anymore. I find her crazy amusing now that it doesn't affect me.)

  • Bert_McGurt


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