I don't cry during movies anymore. I have come a long way since the winter of 2005, when my step–cousin and I had a crying contest in the movie theater bathroom after watching March of the Penguins. We were too embarrassed to cry about the dead penguin chicks in public, so we decided to do it in front of a mirror while others relieved themselves nearby.
Call Me By Your Name and Moonlight both came really close to breaking me. They both broke my mom, but only elicited a quiet whimper from me. Try again, LGBTQ cinema. The last time I remember crying was when I watched Boyhood in the summer before I began my senior year of high school. I even wrote an amateurish review of the movie, and all of its particularities that made me weep. And before that? Toy Story 3 punched me in the gut for sure.
I wish movies did make me cry, though. I took a five–hour nap this past Saint Patrick's Day and woke up delirious. I decided to see a movie with some friends. More specifically, I decided to see Love, Simon. I heard it was a queer movie and that it was good. I didn't read any reviews or commentary beforehand, and I went in cold. Watching movies that way is objectively better; your thoughts aren't colored by A.O. Scott and you're more likely to be surprised by the atmosphere of the film. Anyways, my method worked. I knew nothing at all about Love, Simon, and the stakes were all the higher. I had no preconceptions about whether I'd enjoy it or not.
I wanted the movie to make me cry. It had all the right elements: a rare happy ending, a heartwarming (yet idealistic) coming–out experience, and so on. I enjoyed it, even the corny requisite teen movie moments. As is so easy with the genre, I projected my own idealizations of adolescence onto Simon, reimagining what my high school years could have been. That is, what they would've been like with a $17 million budget and a professionally written script. I felt saddened in retrospect, even with the happy ending. Because it almost seemed unrealistic. Love, Simon had all the emotional excess associated with a good romantic dramedy, but it just couldn't wrench any tears from me. I really wanted to let loose, and enjoy the post–cry clarity I've always valued so much.
I don't remember why I stopped crying in the movie theater or when. But I wish I could again. Needless to say, I will be rewatching March of the Penguins this weekend as practice.