Six Pack of Grief Films

By: Movie Snurb –

For this month, instead of doing another six pack of War films, I thought I’d do a six pack of movies about grief, grief about losing a loved one. Grief is something that we all eventually have to deal with, sometimes younger than we should. There are a lot of movies that touch on this subject in one way or another, which means I’ll probably revisit this subject again. So, without further ado let’s take the sad train to bummerville.  Here are six of the best movies that deal with grief.

Manchester by the Sea

I believe this is the most realistic portrayal of grief in any film ever made. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is forced to move back to Manchester when his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) passes away and in his will, Lee is named the guardian of Joe’s son and Lee’s nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). This is hard for Lee to do because years earlier an accident occurred killing his and his at the time wife Randi’s (Michelle Williams) three kids. He left Manchester because he was never able to move past this and now he is forced to face the trauma head on. It’s a powerful film, mainly because it is so realistic. Grief isn’t a cinematic event in our lives, trauma doesn’t happen when the music swells, it happens suddenly, usually when we are unprepared for it. Grief can also hit at unexpected times much like the meat in the freezer for Patrick. Grief is something that no one is ready for and everyone handles differently. I think this film is the perfect example grief in real life.

Long Trail Brewing Co. – Limbo IPA

This nice amber IPA goes well while you’re stuck inside during a brisk colder winter day. I thought this would pair well because it’s a nice winter beer, but also reflects poor Joe’s body being stuck in Limbo because the ground is too cold and they have to wait till spring to bury him which leads to Patrick’s panic attack.

Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias follows a group of women living in a small southern town who help each other get through the good and the bad through gossip, friendship, and hair styling. Though this film only briefly touches on grief- at the end with a great monologue by Sally Fields- I think it is a great example of grief in two ways. First, Sally’s visceral reaction at her daughter’s funeral; the pure anger and sadness that she emotes feels real and honest. A parent burying their child is something they should never have to do and I can only imagine the anger and hurt one would feel losing a child. In addition, I love this film’s representation of a surrogate family. Sometimes you can’t talk about certain things with our blood family for a number of reasons. But, when you have a close-knit group of friends there’s a camaraderie. It’s a safe space where you know you can say anything and not be judged. And when a major event happens in your life, like a death, you need those people by your side.

Great Raft Brewing – Southern Drawl

This beer will go perfect with all of the southern drawl going on in this film. I have to say that the accents never go too far over-the-top for me. And now you’ll have a tasty beer to go along with this film.

Sunshine Cleaning

Two adult sisters Rose (Amy Adams) and Norah (Emily Blunt) are kind of just existing through life. Rose is trying to better her life for her and her son but her life is still a mess and Norah still lives at home with their dad Joe (Alan Arkin) The girls decide to open their own crime scene clean-up business and in doing so they try to deal with the death of their mother that happened when they were kids. I love this film because it perfectly shows what a profound affect losing a parent at a young age can have on not only a child but the whole family. Also, how important it is to deal with those emotions because having those wounds open for so long can be detrimental to ourselves.

New Glarus Brewing – Two Women

I almost went with a nice summer lager but I just tried this beer only found in Wisconsin. It’s a delicious light beer that pairs well with this small heartful film, plus the name made it an easy choice for this film.

Ordinary People

During a boating trip two brothers take, a storm hits and the older son drowns. Ordinary People begins after this tragedy and after the younger son Conrad’s (Timothy Hutton) suicide attempt. The parents, played by Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore, are dealing with the death and suicide attempt in their own ways as well. It is a very honest film touching on subjects during a time when it was still a stigma to have complicated feelings about an incident. You shouldn’t talk about suicide and feeling sad or guilty, you should be able to work past the issue. It’s a heartbreaking film, especially the ending. I think society is getting better about these issues, stripping away the stigmas and instead starting dialogues so we can begin to learn from one another and be healthier. It’s ok to have the feelings and to seek help to deal with them. It’s a small yet powerful film that should be watched with a full box of Kleenex.

Full Sail Brewery – Cascade Pilsner

Bad joke or lazy beer pick? You can decide, but when you watch this sobfest you can drown your sorrow in this delicious pilsner as the Full Sail Brewery reminds you of the sadness this film makes you feel. Pretty real depiction of grief if you ask me.

Solaris (1972)

This is the original Russian film by Andrei Tarkovsky and not Soderbergh’s remake. In this beautiful and weighty film, a scientist is sent up to a space station orbiting a strange planet called Solaris. The station had a crew of 80 but now it has dwindled to just 3 men. Dr. Kelvin is going to determine if the study of the planet is still worth it.  When Kelvin gets to the station, he discovers they sent radiation rays at the water planet to stop the planet from messing with the scientists. It’s populating a person either from their imagination or someone from their past. The planet creates Dr. Kelvin’s wife who died 10 years prior. This film is about a lot, but I think a big theme is about grief. Dr. Kelvin is forced to face his past at a time he wasn’t ready for, just like grief appears. He must decide whether to let the planet get the best of him and he give in to the grief, or he deal with his past and then move on and go home. Unfortunately, the ending to me says that Dr. Kelvin decides to stay on the planet and give in to the grief, representing the people that can’t deal with the loss and give in to self-destructive vices or even suicide. It’s a dark thought, but a very real one.

Abita – Amber

I almost picked Abita’s Purple Haze but I thought their amber brew would go well with the gorgeous look of the planet Solaris.  Be sure to pour it in a glass and contemplate any regrets you have, or what makes us human.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

I never would’ve thought about this film being about grief until I was listening to the Unspooled podcast. They are watching all the films on AFI’s list of 100 greatest films and while covering this film, Critic Amy Nicholson talked about how she sees this film as almost an instructional for children on how to deal with loss. When E.T. has to leave, it feels like Steven Spielberg drew from the personal experience of his parents’ divorce. That final scene feels like when a parent leaves the house and goes to live on their own. I believe this could be used to teach children about grief and that we all have to deal with loss at some point in our lives. No one lives forever and it’s a fact of life we need to understand.

Coors Brewing Company – Coors

I feel like this beer choice is basically self-explanatory, but it’s the beer E.T. loves to get down with. Now all you have to do is play hooky from work and watch this film with a six pack of Coors. I guess if you’d like you could go with a Coors Light.

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