depressing vs. uplifting

Jason Reitman is so hot right now he’s on fire. He directed Thank You for Smoking and Juno, both of which I absolutely adored, and he’s impressed me again with Up in the Air. I loved this film. The dialogue and nuances were perfect. Being an organization freak, I was all into the montage at the beginning where George Clooney’s character, Ryan, is going through airport security. He snaps his luggage around like the professional traveler he is. What intrigued me most about the film (other than a major twist I did not see coming at all, except that the girl sitting behind me loudly whispered to her friend that it was about to happen which, of course, totally ruined it for me, but it was still so good I almost didn’t care) is this: I can’t decide if the ending is depressing or uplifting.

George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air

We all like a happy ending. Isn’t that one reason we read books and watch movies, to come away from our escape with a positive feeling about our real lives? The thing is, some of my favorite movies are depressing. Like, really depressing. We’re talking About Schmidt depressing. I just love that movie so much. Why? Because it’s amazingly realistic. It shows the ugly details of our lives in a way most movies won’t even touch. That’s why I also have love for American Beauty, Closer, Year of the Dog, The Shape of Things, and especially The Safety of Objects. Maybe it’s because I prefer movies and books that feel completely real. In a lot of ways, I feel a greater connection with depressing movies than uplifting ones. Although I also love movies with happy endings because they’re like instant mood improvers, I despise the big Hollywood ending where everything is outrageously wrapped up in a big red bow in the last five minutes. But a happy ending that makes sense and feels real? Awesome.

Now it’s Coffee Talk time. Think about your favorite movies. Are most of them depressing or uplifting? Why do you think that is? Discuss amongst yourselves.

10 thoughts on “depressing vs. uplifting

  1. I have been enjoying really bad and bawdy bromantic comedies lately. Not sure why I’m gravitating toward them, but hey why swim against the current? I just finished Overnight Delivery with Paul Rudd and Reece Witherspoon. Classic.

  2. I think I tend to like the happy ending books more. I mean, everyone loves a happy ending. It’s true that some people read to escape their own world. I do that all the time. As Elizabeth Scott says, “the moment you open one and sink into it you can escape from the world, into a story that’s way more interesting than yours will ever be.” Even though I do love the happy books, I do get what you’re saying with the realistic books, as well. That’s why I love Nicholas Sparks books. Some of them have happy endings, others don’t. Sometimes a non-happy ending is better, because that’s how life is. We don’t all get a happy ending. I think it all depends on what you’re looking for at the time. Something real, or something to get your mind of something real.

    • I like the way you put that. When I want an instant mood enhancer to get happy, I watch The Office or Freaks and Geeks or a happy movie. It’s amazing how these things have such power over us. I guess I only watch the more depressing movies when I’m already feeling happy so I can appreciate the film without feeling too sad about it. It really is all about what we’re looking for, as well as what we connect with. I know some people who hate depressing movies and will never, ever watch them. Fascinating.

      • It is quite fascinating. All of it’s pretty cool when you think about it I guess. It’s weird, because you were just discussing this issue of depressing vs. uplifting, and I started reading Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes because of the reference in Waiting For You. Nineteen Minutes is definitely depressing! I should be done with it today, but I definitely had to take breaks while reading it. It is a very good book though.

        • Yay, I love it when readers look into my references like that! Jodi Picoult is just so freaking good. You should read The Pact after you’re done with Nineteen Minutes – it’s my fave book of hers.

          • I just finished Nineteen Minutes and it was really good! I was really surprised to hear that Josie actually shot Matt. Such a tragedy. Next time I’m at the library I’ll make sure to pick The Pact up, Thanks! 🙂

  3. Gone With the Wind
    Now Gone With the Wind is not my favorite movie but it is definetly an amazing movie….besides the fact that it is 4 HOURS LONG! It came on tv the other night and I couldn’t help but watch it because I have only seen bits and pieces of it over the years. Let me tell you: if you are looking for a happy movie look elsewhere! Now it is centered around life during and after the Civil War so it is going to be highly depressing for most of it but…..there is no happy ending. Instead, the happiness seems to leak out of the movie the farther into it you get. And by that point you HAVE to finish it! If you are looking for real life then this is a good one for you(if you haven’t seen it which I doubt cause it’s awesome. lol). I love me some happy endings so whenever there is an unhappy or slightly depressing ending I walk away angry at the actors(as if they could do something about it) or the screen play writer. And then I think of twenty different ways they could have made the ending at least a little bit better. And yet, most of them are great movies and you can’t help but love it up until the very end!

    • Re: Gone With the Wind
      Yes, I always think of alternate endings to movies if I don’t like the real ones too! I totally should have seen Gone with the Wind (along with a bunch of other classics) by now, but I’ve never been interested in old movies. However, I will keep your recommendation in mind.


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