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maestrowork
02-25-2008, 06:58 AM
Ever since the award season began, I've heard a lot of comments such as "I didn't like that movie because I didn't like the ending": No Country for Old Men, Atonement, There Will Be Blood, Zodiac, etc. all have unconventional, non-Hollywood endings. Some may not even have a "satisfying" ending -- the bad gets away with murder, for example.

Does such an ending ruin a movie for you? Do you hate the entire movie because the ending wasn't something you expect or would like to have happened? Or would you be able to assess the ending to see if it's a "fitting" ending for an otherwise fantastic story, even if it's not something you like?

What are some of the movies with an unconventional, "non-happy" ending that you think is great, even though you would have liked the ending to be something else?

Will Lavender
02-25-2008, 08:44 AM
No. Never. I'm always surprised when someone says "The ending ruined it." It was just the ending. No different than 10:05:22 or 63:09:01.

A good ending can make a film if it's especially revelatory, I think, but I can't recall a movie that I've ever seen that I hated just because of the ending. If the ending's bad but the movie is brilliant, I usually give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt.

Toothpaste
02-25-2008, 09:25 AM
As long as the ending is true to the story. . . typical answer but true. I still don't get how people thought the ending was wrong for Cloverfield for example. I mean . . . seriously . . . how on earth else could it have ended?

Scrawler
02-25-2008, 10:13 AM
Sometimes I get the feeling the writers or directors purposefully add an unexpected twist that doesn't quite work, either because they think they're brilliant, or were trying to be oh-so-clever. I didn't care for No Country for Old Men much (it isn't my thing) but basically everyone got killed and the creep wandered off. To me that's more of a non-ending. There's no satisfaction.

dgiharris
02-25-2008, 10:48 AM
I can't stand most happy endings. Not because I like misery, moreso because the endings are typically not true to the film.

Take any amoral movie detailing criminals or killers. I can't stand the fact that in the beginning of the movie, they are brilliant, calculating masterminds but by the end, they are bumbling idiots or through a twist of fate, the newbie cop catches them against all odds.

What crap.

But, it is "our" fault. The American audience likes a happy ending. And Hollywood is in the business of making the customer happy.

It is rare, that unhappy endings make the final cut. I think it is like a 10 to 1 ratio for unhappy endings vs happy endings.

But rarer still is the artist's vision realized. I think the Exec's have too much influence and exert it, mucking everything up. Unless you are a Quentin Taratino or a Spike Lee, the artist (writer/director) doesn't get the pull he needs to ensure that the ending is true to the film.

JoNightshade
02-25-2008, 10:55 AM
I'm okay with happy or sad endings (as long as the sad ones do not involve small fuzzy animals). What bugs me are ambiguous endings that just sorta trail off. Or that leave you going "Huh?" but not in a good way.

kristie911
02-25-2008, 11:32 AM
I was unhappy with the ending of 3:10 To Yuma but it certainly didn't ruin the entire movie for me, nor would it prevent me from recommending the movie because I thought it was excellent.

I don't require a happy ending. I just want an ending that fits the story. And like Jo said, doesn't leave you thinking, "huh?".

Cassiopeia
02-25-2008, 11:58 AM
What annoys me and I mean ANNOY, is when they go for the unhappy ending for the sake of saying it ended unhappily ever after. It seems to be a trend now and the happily ever after ending isn't as readily seen.

I think a movie should end logically the way it should and not have a contrived bad ending so people can rave about how poignant it was.

chartreuse
02-25-2008, 06:39 PM
I just want the ending to make sense. That's really all I ask for.

Dancer in the Dark definitely did NOT have a happy ending, but I still think it was a great film, because the ending worked.

Calla Lily
02-25-2008, 06:46 PM
Two endings that ruined the movie for me:

Nightmare on Elm Street (the very first one). Oh,please. THey resolve all the plot points, tie off every loose end, and then they bring Freddy back for NO reason other than to make a zillion sequels. People, they killed Freddy off in his weird afterlife! It made sense! Argh! Argh again!

City of Angels. Triple argh! There was NO REASON AT ALL to kill off Meg Ryan's character! The original Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire, was grim, depressing, and guilt-ridden--but the ending had some hope! The ex-angel gets to try and make a life with the girl.


OTOH, an ending that made the movie for me: The Illusionist. I admit, when I saw it was from a Steven Millhauser story, I automatically assumed no one would be happy at the end. Because I let myself be blinded by that, I never saw the twist, and the movie did plant all the clues. Loved the HEA here.

Will Lavender
02-25-2008, 06:57 PM
OTOH, an ending that made the movie for me: The Illusionist. I admit, when I saw it was from a Steven Millhauser story, I automatically assumed no one would be happy at the end. Because I let myself be blinded by that, I never saw the twist, and the movie did plant all the clues. Loved the HEA here.

Yeah, that's a great ending.

DeleyanLee
02-25-2008, 07:27 PM
City of Angels. Triple argh! There was NO REASON AT ALL to kill off Meg Ryan's character! The original Wim Wenders film, Wings of Desire, was grim, depressing, and guilt-ridden--but the ending had some hope! The ex-angel gets to try and make a life with the girl.

I so totally agree with you there. That was the last "serious Hollywood romance" movie I spent money on in the theater and I just plain refuse to do it again unless I know for a fact that both lovers are going to get a shot at happiness after the close of the movie. So tired of them robbing any chance of happiness after all the hell and hassle the couple's been through to be together.

The only worse ending--which they did at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean series (and what they did to Will & Elizabeth not only ruined that movie for me, it ruined the entire series)--is to give them one night together and leave her with a kid to raise alone. Absolutely detest it.

OTOH, Titantic didn't bother me at all because the movie wasn't about the romance, it was about Rose's growth as a person and as a woman and Jack's death there was part of that process.

Give me the ending you promised me throughout the story and I'm happy--but if you're promising me a romance as the main story line, it better have them both alive with a chance of happiness after the closing credits.

C.bronco
02-25-2008, 07:31 PM
Hannibal. I was distraught. The book had a great happy ending, and the movie ruined it completely.

By the way, I did watch Pitch Black this weekend. It was a great picaresque movie which ended the way it did for a reason. Two thumbs up!

rosebud1981
02-25-2008, 09:39 PM
I disagree about Hannibal. I didn't like the ending of the novel at all and thought the ending of the movie was much better. Same goes for The Shining. Amazing novel, but a sucky ending. Stephen King might not agree, but I think the movie has a terrific climax.

I definitively agree with some previous posters about City of Angels. What a shocking ending. It doesn't have to be happy - a lot of the best ones aren't - but it shouldn't seem out of place with the rest of the story.

I didn't like the ending of No Country For Old Men much either. Again I wasn't bothered about it not being a happy one. It suited the tone of the movie that the killer escapes with the main guy being killed, but my problem was the way it happened 'off-screen'. It just seemed like a lack of respect for the viewer to do it like that.

WildScribe
02-25-2008, 09:54 PM
Ladder 49 and The Notebook are two of my favorite movies... I just can't watch them because the endings make me sniffly. ;)

WildScribe
02-25-2008, 09:55 PM
The only worse ending--which they did at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean series (and what they did to Will & Elizabeth not only ruined that movie for me, it ruined the entire series)--is to give them one night together and leave her with a kid to raise alone. Absolutely detest it.


Oh, so true! What a stinky way for things to end up!

Plot Device
02-25-2008, 11:43 PM
Us scriptwriters are repeatedly told that endings are the most critical part of the movie, so we'd better make them real doozies. That last ten minutes is what will last in the audience's minds after they leave the theatre, and it will heavily color the resulting word-of-mouth. The current prevailing opinion in Hollywood is that a mediocre film can be salvaged by a killer ending (and this unfortunately allows some executives to justify mediocre films, just so long as they have those killer endings). In fact, even if you have an amazing Act 1 and a mind-blowing Act 2, but if the final ten minutes are blah, they'll pass on you! But reverse that scenario with a crummy Act 1 and Act 2, but a super cool final ten minutes, and they'll consider you. Crazy right?

Whole endings have been radically changed with total rewrites and reshootings (yes! they call back the actors again!) when test audiences gave the thumbs-down on the original endings of many films (such as Pretty Woman and Blade, just to name a few). Watch Pretty Woman and notice that Julia Roberts has a fiercely curly perm at certain parts, and then in other parts her hair is almost completely straight--that's because the straight-haired scenes were shot six to ten months later and her perm had totally faded in its curliness at that point.

The films mentioned in the OP are the heavy handed, deep-shit art house flicks that typically have heavy duty, soul-wracking endings to them. The kinds of studios/prodcos that make the art-house stuff don't usually bother with the test-screenings on those sorts of films. Test marketting is more concerned with the moNEY than the Monet.

willietheshakes
02-26-2008, 12:59 AM
I'm a sucker for happy endings. A massage just isn't complete without...

Hold on - what were we talking about again?