At what point does a filmmaker decide
he’s going to kill a good story in exchange for poignancy? Presumably it’s the
writing stage (otherwise there would be lots of production overages). Don’t get
the wrong idea; downer endings are by no means a bad thing. Blanket statement
alert: In the movies they’re often more faithful to the conceit laid out in the
story’s first frames.
But there are times when the sad
ending seems designed to be sad for the sake of being sad. Think about
awful-even-without-the-endings movies Message in a Bottle and, yes, My
Girl. Does Kevin Costner need to drown? Does the Home Alone kid need
to be stung to death?