Sometimes when I’m home with my handicapped son—who requires just enough attention to make impossible doing anything that needs uninterrupted focus—I scan the free movies available from Amazon prime. Even earphones don’t blot out my son’s happy noises, and when I sit in the kitchen I’m right where he wants me most of the time, handily available near the food he likes.
So watching a movie or reading a book is something that can be interrupted without too much frustration. My Amazon search led me to a movie I hadn’t heard of before, The High Cost of Living. It sounded interesting while at the same time a buzz sounded in my head over one review, something like: “it’s a sad movie but I found myself still thinking of the characters the next day.” Usually when a movie or book makes enough of an impact to stay with an audience after the final credits or last page, that means it’s a success.
But that one word . . . sad . . . was the source of the alarm clanging in my head. I’m not sure if it was my mood or if I just generally don’t want to watch something sad (I tend to think it’s the latter) but it took me a while to decide giving the movie a try. I decided to watch it for ten or fifteen minutes and then if I didn’t like the characters enough to risk them tearing my heart to pieces, I’d go back to searching for something else.
I ended up watching the entire movie. And yes, it was sad. But it was compelling, too. At one point one of the characters wonders how it happens that a person can think of themselves in one way, as one sort of person, but because of decisions we’ve made along the way that person we think we are isn’t at all how the world views us. Maybe we’re not who we thought we were. I found that fascinating, and the character portraying this dilemma absolutely convincing.
And yet, once the final credits did roll, while I was glad to have seen the movie and agree that the characters were likely to ramble around in my head for a while, I have to add this movie to others I’ve seen that I’d rather not watch again. I can watch comedies, musicals, and romantic tales again and again, even to the point of knowing the next line. But sad movies go on a shelf somewhere, tucked away, not forgotten but having little hope of being visited again. I have a Pinterest page with such movies, and it’s one of my briefest I think because my sad-meter warns me away.
Do you have a sad-meter? Or perhaps a violence-meter, or some other aspect you’d rather not read or view?