Tear Jerkers: 6 Movies [2 Discs] [DVD]

This collection of six tearjerkers includes To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, The End of the Affair, All the Pretty Horses, My Life, Barry Levinson's family drama Avalon, and the remake of Swept Away starring Madonna.
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Synopsis

The End of the Affair
Based on the novel by Graham Greene, this romantic drama stars Ralph Fiennes as Maurice Bendrix, a novelist who, during World War II, had an affair with Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore), the wife of his best friend Henry (Stephen Rea). Sarah abruptly broke off the romance in 1944, but two years later, after Maurice runs into Henry, he becomes obsessed with the affair and hires a man to investigate Sarah. He reads her diary of their forbidden romance in the midst of the London Blitz and discovers that, overwhelmed with fear and guilt, she pledged to God that she would end the affair if Maurice's life were spared. Maurice is determined to reintroduce himself into Sarah's life, but she fears that being near him would be too great a temptation. The End of the Affair was previously brought to the screen in 1955 by Edward Dmytryk; this version was written for the screen and directed by Academy Award-winner Neil Jordan. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Swept Away
Guy Ritchie, best known for the tough-guy crime comedies Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, goes for a change of pace with this remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 comedy-drama, with his wife Madonna in tow. Amber Leighton (Madonna) is the wife of Dr. Anthony Leighton (Bruce Greenwood), the wealthy and successful head of a pharmaceutical company. While Amber seemingly leads a charmed life, it doesn't appear to make her very happy, and she often inflicts her typically foul mood on those around her, especially the hired help. Anthony decides to surprise Amber with a cruise from Italy to Greece, with four of their friends in tow, but Amber doesn't much care for the notion. Amber feels the yacht they've hired is far beneath her standards, and she makes Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini), the first mate of the crew, the primary target of her dissatisfaction. Giuseppe, an ardent leftist, feels nothing but contempt for Amber, but for the sake of his job he can't say a word in response to her attacks. One day, Amber declines an invitation to go diving with her friends, but later changes her mind, demanding that Giuseppe take her to the underwater caves. Giuseppe warns Amber that a storm is brewing, and his prediction proves to be right on the money; soon, Amber and Giuseppe are stranded on a desert island, and suddenly they discover the tables are turned. Giuseppe, a trained fisherman and outdoorsman, knows how to survive on the island, while Amber is utterly helpless, and he forces her to cower under his commands in order to survive; before long, their mutual antagonism has begun to turn into something approaching unfettered lust. Adriano Giannini, who plays Giuseppe, is the son of Giancarlo Giannini, who played the equivalent role in Wertmuller's original film. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

My Life
In My Life, Michael Keaton stars as Bob Jones, who has just been informed that his wife Gail (Nicole Kidman) is pregnant with their first child. However, he has also been told he has kidney cancer that has spread to his lungs; the longest Bob is expected to live is four months, which will deny him the joy of witnessing the birth of his child. Raging within, he visits a Chinese healer, Mr. Ho (Haing S. Ngor), who encourages him to let go of all the anger and fear he has kept trapped inside himself. Bob proceeds to videotape himself, on the advice of Mr. Ho, where Bob will talk to his unborn child and discuss what he has learned in life. In the process of the videotape sessions, Bob discovers that his anger resides in his past with his family, and Bob reveals secrets that he has kept hidden from himself and his wife through the years. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Avalon
The third of director Barry Levinson's autobiographical "Baltimore Trilogy" (the first two entries were Diner and Tin Men), Avalon covers nearly forty years in the lives of an immigrant Jewish family. Sam Krichinsky (Armin Mueller-Stahl) emigrates to Baltimore in 1914, where Sam's brothers Gabriel (Lou Jacobi), Hymie (Leo L. Fuchs), and Nathan (Israel Rubinek) are awaiting his arrival. By and by, Sam meets his future wife, Eva (Joan Plowright). With the introduction of the Krichinsky's grown son Jules (Aidan Quinn), the film ventures into culture-clash country. Unwilling to become a manual laborer like his dad, Jules opts for the life of a door-to-door salesman. Eventually, he teams with his cousin Izzy (Kevin Pollak) to open the first TV store in Baltimore. Thereafter, the disintegration of the Krichinsky family is paralleled by the rise of TV's omnipresence in the American home. Avalon's elegiac and melancholy effect is underlined by Randy Newman's soulful musical score. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday
In this story of obsessive and enduring love, David Lewis (Peter Gallagher) spends most of his time swimming, dancing, and frolicking on the beach with the spirit of his dead wife Gillian (Michelle Pfeiffer). After Gillian's drowning death, David made their summer cottage on Nantucket Island into a permanent home. He lives there with his teenage daughter Rachel (Claire Danes), who is being neglected because her father spends so much time with her dead mother's ghost. On the second anniversary of Gillian's death, over Labor Day weekend, he invites Gillian's sister Esther Wheeler (Kathy Baker) and Esther's husband Paul (Bruce Altman) for the weekend. David's in-laws bring with them a beautiful woman named Kevin Danford (Wendy Crewson), hoping that David's attentions will turn to her. But David ignores her and proceeds with his ritualistic celebration of Gillian's birthday, including a formal dinner, karaoke, and building sand castles. After Paul makes a pass at Rachel's young girlfriend, Esther and Paul re-examine their bickering marriage and find it paltry compared to David's overwhelming eternal passion. Nothing can interfere with David's love for Gillian, but he comes to realize that he must be more attentive to his daughter as well. ~ Michael Betzold, Rovi

All the Pretty Horses
Director Billy Bob Thornton explores coming of age in this Western based on Cormac McCarthy's prize-winning novel of the same name. John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) are young Texan men who seek a more fulfilling life as cowboys in the slowly fading Old West, circa 1949. One night, the duo head for Mexico in hope of finding some adventure and employment, and along the way run into Blevins (Lucas Black), an even younger drifter who has supposedly stolen a horse from private property. Begrudgingly, Cole and Rawlins take him under their wing before they eventually find themselves in Mexico, working for a wealthy landowner (Ruben Blades). His stalwart and beautiful daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz) develops a romantic interest in Cole, which threatens the friendship between him and Rawlins, not to mention their living quarters, where Alejandra's watchful aunt (Miriam Colon) warns Cole that she has professed allegiance to her. Cole and Rawlins' thrill-seeking adventures with Blevins and the stolen horse catch up to them, however, and they are held prisoners in a brutal penitentiary, where their cowboy instincts are put to the ultimate test. Cole, meanwhile, wants nothing more than to get back to Alejandra and resume their love affair. The film also features Bruce Dern in a small role as a judge who eventually gives much-desired guidance to Cole. ~ Jason Clark, Rovi

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