YOUR VOICES: On What Makes You Cry in A Movie


Your Voices is a simple concept created to encourage conversation and opinions between movie lovers. It works like this: I throw out a certain topic or question and I’ll take time to make my case or share my opinions. Then it’s time for Your Voices. Head to the comments section and let fellow readers and moviegoers know your thoughts on the topic for that day!

Let’s get this out of the way. There is nothing wrong with crying at a movie. Women are more at peace with the fact, but men often can’t get past the silly predilections of macho manhood. Personally, I rarely cry or even tear up at movies. It isn’t that “I’m a man” therefore I don’t cry. It is just the way I’m wired. Movies still hit me on an emotional level but rarely to the point of tears.


That being said I do find myself getting a bit misty when movies strike a few specific chords. The one that hits me the hardest is when a film features a big moment between a father and his son/daughter. Without a doubt, this became a thing for me the moment I had children of my own. That deep affection became real. When movies do it well it can be tender to the point of tears. They can also be emotionally devastating. So that’s what gets to me, but what about you? Now it’s time for Your Voices.

YOUR VOICES: What makes you cry in a movie?

I’ve shared my teary-eyed confession. Now it’s your turn. Do you ever cry at movies? If so, what is it that triggers those emotional faucets? If not, is there anything that at least gets you close? I would to hear Your Voices.

50 thoughts on “YOUR VOICES: On What Makes You Cry in A Movie

  1. I know for some people they get misty-eyes when there’s a moment that resonated with them because they can relate to it. For me it’s moments that I can’t relate to personally. For example in Creed when Adonis says he wants to prove he wasn’t a mistake. That hit me because I can only imagine what he must feel. The most tears that ever came down my eyes was the climax of Toy Story 3 when they all held hands as they were about to go into the incinerator. I’ll never forget, I saw it in the middle of the day and sat next to these two women about my age who grew up with those characters and WE HELD HANDS! Strangers United over a movie. It was beautiful.

    • WOW! That’s quite a moment. And here is what is really cool – Toy Story 3 never really resonated with me. But I LOVE reading how movies effect people differently. I bet TS3 is a favorite of yours? It probably would be mine after that kind of experience.

  2. Oh God. I don’t know. Room was an example of a film that made me cry for more than an hour around that moment where the film reached its second act and afterwards. I recently did find myself crying again during a re-watch of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders of Mars concert movie during the performance of “My Death” as I lost it during that song as I was still coming to terms with the passing of David Bowie. That scene in Toy Story 3 almost made me cry but it was the ending that made me cry. Inside Out also made me cry because of the importance of sadness as it relates to memories and such.

  3. “Personally, I rarely cry or even tear up at movies. It isn’t that “I’m a man” therefore I don’t cry. It is just the way I’m wired. Movies still hit me on an emotional level but rarely to the point of tears”. You stole the words from my mouth.

    I tend to cry (or get close to crying) more often thanks to the music score and/or soundtrack than to the scene.

    • Oh that’s a good point. I’m the same way. When a score hits the perfect harmony with a scene it can really bring an emotional effect. That definitely plays a role with me too.

  4. If we’re talking about crying “emotional tears” (as I call them) then I have no specific reason for it. I guess the only thing I can truly say about it is that if it is a genuinely sad/heartfelt/beautiful moment that is well handled and not overly sappy then it will most likely be able to get me to shed a tear/bawl/feel heavy. “The Green Mile” is a good example of a film that handled it’s sad stuff perfectly and made me cry. I also cried my eyes out at the documentary “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son about his Father”.

    • You make a great point. Filmmakers can either make or break an emotional scene. When they handle it well, that’s when then scene can have an impact. But when they flub it up….sigh.

  5. Anything I consider to exemplify a “pet theme” will inevitably make me cry. I have an affinity for anti-romantic fare and what can be considered emotionally authentic. If I watch something that strives for situational specificity over trite genre tropes, I’ll more often than not find myself tearing up. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’ve found myself borderline inconsolable after watching certain films, yet I never cry in response to the weaker aspects of my day-to-day affairs.

    • I get what your saying. I think it is because we grow accustomed to seeing the same manipulations over and over in movies. When I know where something is going and when it’s checking the boxes it rarely has any emotional effect on me.

  6. I’m a cry baby. I can be moved to tears quite easily, I’m embarrassed to say. The score in a film manipulates me. Pick any Holocaust film, and I can’t help but weep. West Side Story, when Tony dies, I weep. I should buy stock in Kleenex.

  7. Room,Inside Out, The Theory Of Everything and Forrest Gump all made me cry so much 😦
    I just found them all so emotionally powerful,each of them got to me on a really deep level. Nice idea Keith!! I look forward to more!

  8. For me a lot of times it’s a moment that reminds of my life or someone I love. I love Up because it reminds me of my Grandpa who I miss dearly. A lot of the Pixar movies make me cry because they remind me of my life. Oddly enough movies that are about horrible things happening to people like 12 Years a Slave typically don’t make me cry (more horrified) because I haven’t experienced anything like that if that makes sense.

    • I love that perspective. I can 100% see where a movie can have a bigger emotional wallop when it connects to your life. That’s why the father thing gets to me.

  9. I don’t tear up much, but still do so with E.T. as it just manages to manipulate me in just the right way. Black Swan made me tear up just because I though it was a pefect film. At the end of Fruitvale Station I was moved when the daughter asks where her father is. So there are various reasons the tears might swell up…

  10. I’m really, really close to my dad but we had a tough relationship when I was growing we’ve had to work hard to get to where we are now. Anything involving a father-daughter relationship slays me.

    Also Baz Luhrman for some reason. I can’t get through Romeo + Juliet or Moulin Rouge without howling like a baby.

    And finally since I got pregnant anything involving a baby being born… including commercials!!

  11. I’m one of those who “can’t get past the silly predilections of macho manhood.” Just don’t cry over movies, and pretty much make it a point not to. Thank my 70s, “make a man out of him!” upbringing for that. The one time I did I was 8 years old and it was father-son thing, The Champ. It ended with Ricky Schroeder screaming for his dad to wake up after the boxing match the old man just had. He never did. Couldn’t handle that.

    Since then a few movies have gotten close. It’s usually films where I can relate to the protagonist on a deeper level than I do most characters due to great writing. I have to feel like I know these people. The end of Rudy finds me choking down the biggest lump in my throat. Animated flicks have gotten closest most often, for some reason. The opening of Up was really, really close. It was just so perfect and sad without being overly sentimental or cliche. That incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 also had me on the verge. I was in a theater for that one. No, I didn’t hold hands with strangers. I did gasp as if it were my friends about to meet their demise. And I didn’t grow up with the franchise. I was grown when the first came out, but they still had a tremendous impact on me.

    I suppose I’ll succumb one of these days. My wife and daughters keep telling me they want to see it, so of course, I have taken that as a challenge not to. When I get close to tears I’ll look over at one of them who will have them streaming down their face and I’ll will mine to stay inside my head. Nope, not losing that game.

  12. Whenever something happens to a dog or a child, I just can’t. Remember that awful scene in Under the Skin with the baby utterly abandoned on the beach? I couldn’t compose myself for several minutes

  13. I don’t really cry during movies but father-son relationships do tend to get me tearing up. If we’re talking about books, the end to It had really hit me hard.

  14. I cry at movies quite a lot. and comparing myself to my partner, I do think it is a lot related to being female.
    Its usually crying over really sad moments rather than the happy endings. I think the things I cry at most are things that I personally fear in life. A good example of this is the beginning of UP.
    Things like Toy Story 3 – yes its sad but I don’t tend to tear up unless the plot is realistic, and I’m terrified of this particular storyline happening to me.
    This is why I usually find it difficult to watch films based on true stories. For example 13 hours and the Lone Survivor.
    I really tend to immerse myself into the film, and when I think about their families, or if my husband/boyfriend was in that situation, I just wouldn’t be able to cope. And then comes the flood of tears! (with Lone Survivor, i almost had to call in sick for work the next day…)
    I think it is easier for me to lose a sense of my reality and fully relate to particular characters in films.
    Although both my partner and I can empathise with characters and share their pain, I think I am much more inclined to show that empathy physically through tears. Whereas my partner would shrug those feelings of empathy away.

    In a way I’m glad I cry (sometimes hysterically) at films. It just means when moments in real life come along and make me want to cry, I can store it up. Because comparing to the Lone Survivor- it ain’t all that bad!

    • I’m with you on several things. The sad moments do it to me more but I have to say there are happy moments that get to me when big stakes are involved. That’s mainly when it is a parent and child. Really powerful to me.

  15. Good topic! 🙂 I rarely cry but the ones that get me more teary-eyed are the “happy” moments. I love a really good end to a film, like City Lights or Cinema Paradiso. Movies that are depressing and TRY to make you cry usually come across contrived and don’t work on me. But the ONE movie I can’t make it through without crying is Mask. I’ve probably seen it 30 times & I lose it at the end EVERY TIME without fail.

  16. I think I was much more likely to get upset by movies when I was a kid, and I remember crying when ET left for his home planet and when Han Solo was frozen in carbonite. In recent years not quite so much, though I do remember welling up at the end of Life Is Beautiful, the prologue of Pixar’s Up and (like others above) I was fighting them back while watching Room.

    With regard to Titanic, I was…um…trying to get something out of my eye.

  17. I think I’m much more likely to cry when everything in a scene/film reaches a catharsis for a character; some sense of relief from turmoil or overcoming an impossible change, or opening their heart to someone/something. I’m more drained and wary than shocked and emotionally drained with visceral movies like dramas or war films to cry. Too bad I can’t seem to think of any off the top of my head! Cool blog idea!

    • Very interesting. I see where you’re coming from. Being emotionally drained doesn’t always equal tears for me either. That doesn’t mean they don’t have an emotional punch. It just rarely equals tears for me.

  18. Fabulous topic for Your Voices dude. I think I’m like you, it has to take a lot and a lot of very believable work to make me come to tears, I guess Ive just gotten programmed to understand that even as good as the biggest names are on screen, you’re ultimately still watching a performance. However there are still those times that get to me. For some reason the father-son bond in About Time between Bill Nighy and Domhnall Gleeson really got me. It was one of those great relationships and the moment was about as manipulative as you could get but it nevertheless happened. Its a shame so few movies are good enough to evoke those strong emotions.

    • Thanks man. You know it’s funny, I had told someone else that I find myself getting a bit softer as I get older. More specific scenes are having an impact on me mainly those that deal with father and child. That photo I included of Inception. That entire finale gets me every time!

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