Late one Saturday night, my friends and I just finished gushing over our favorite romance movies when we decided to watch another one. They told me I had to watch Me Before You. Little did I know, I was going to feel betrayed within 2 hours. Once the movie ended, I just sat in silence with tears rolling down my face. How could they do that to me? Why would they willingly become attached to a beautiful couple just to have the main character choose death over a life in a wheelchair? He had true love. Wasn’t that enough?

Okay, for this to make more sense, I have a confession to make: I only really like to watch movies with happy endings. The term “happy ending” is pretty broad, so let’s just stick with something along the lines of true love or good overcomes evil. The movie gets extra points for slapping “happily ever after” on it. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get back to my confession. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy or find value in movies with realistic outcomes. I do. I love when things are relatable and accurately reflect real life. But I’m also of the school of thought that because movies and stories are our own creations and we have control over what happens – so much unlike the life that we live – I think it warrants permission to make up a happier ending. When I watch a well-deserved happy ending for characters in a movie, I get excited. It gives me hope that even in a bleak world, we can have good things happen to us. Good things can happen to good people.

Imagine if Avengers Infinity War was the end of the saga. Imagine if all we were left with as audience members and fans was that empty feeling in our stomachs, knowing that half of our beloved superheroes and role models were just gone. Thanos would still be sitting on the beach, sipping a margarita. That would be really depressing. I would feel betrayed by the directors and writers that would make us commit hours on end to watching all of the individual films and all the build-up just to see them die. Thank goodness we were giving Endgame. It was good to have those loose ends tied for certain characters who had lived in our hearts for over a decade. It was reassuring to know that good ultimately conquered evil. 

That being said, most movies do try to have a happy ending. However, audiences are just left with those cut-off scenes with the implication that they had a happy ending. Nothing’s more satisfying than actually seeing the joyful resolution onscreen. I think of The Holiday, where we can see the happy family of lovers at the end reunite for Christmas and enjoy one another’s company. Another example is the recent Gemini Man with Will Smith. While I didn’t watch the whole movie, I knew enough to be attached to the characters in some way by the time we watched the ending. We got to see Will Smith and his clone live out a life they both had missed out on. It wasn’t any longer than a few minutes, but it made a difference in seeing their happiness play out. I doubt I’d be alone when I say that there are far too many people in the world who don’t get those last few moments with their loved ones that they would have liked, that their time is cut too short.

Now that you’ve got some background, let’s get back to Me Before You. After watching that movie, it made me think about how true it is that love just isn’t enough sometimes for us to have a good life.  While I firmly believe that “true love” can exist if we work for it, pain, suffering, and unfairness are real, too. William Traynor chose to spend his last days with the love of his life and to end it. A decision like that may not always make sense unless you have experienced crippling challenges yourself.  And that’s okay, and that’s his choice. Movies like that are essential, too. However,  I have had enough of that heartbreak in my own life and in the news headline to not want to experience it, even secondhand, willingly. Storytelling is a gift that allows us to suspend our disbelief for just an hour or two so that we can be reminded that there are happy endings. And we can have hope that they will come eventually.  Whether you agree with me or not isn’t the point. Movies are made to move us. So no matter what type of movies you love – keep watching, keep hoping, and keep enjoying.

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