More Than Blue And Why Tragedy Romances Are So Appealing

Why do so many of us gravitate towards romances that want us to bawl our eyes out?

If you are familiar with Asian cinema, you would have heard of this movie and the two versions of it. The first was a 2009 Korean film, and the second is the 2018 Taiwanese remake of said film. I will be focusing on the 2018 version, mainly because that’s the one I’ve seen. The premise is the same: boy (K) and girl (Cream) find connection through shared tragedies, becoming best friends and developing romantic feelings for each other over time. It sounds like a recipe for happily ever after, except for the fact that the boy is dying. This is agonising for the viewer, since we have become invested in their love story, only to find out that it can only end in tragedy.

He decides to keep the truth from her, urging her to find her happily ever after with someone else. For a while it appears that she does. She starts dating a dentist, and as things get serious, our hearts break for K. He tries to keep it together, putting on this show of happiness for her while suffering such emotional devastation. We don’t understand why he needs to keep his feelings and illness a secret – if time is against them, then he should be cherishing every moment spent with her instead of pushing her into a life with another man. That is our comprehension of love; eventually we move on from the desolation it heaps upon us. There is no relationship that can break us so irrecoverably.

Or maybe this is what I believed, before the movie proved me wrong. Then I realised that I had been proven wrong many times before. Literature and film are littered with examples of lovers being unable to move on once their loved one was gone; Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights to name but two. Cream is unable to handle his death. As he breathes his last, so does she, unwilling to be apart from him even for a few minutes. For all my certainty that he should have just told her and not wasted their time together, in those last moments of the film I saw that he knew her best after all. He needed her to have something to live for, a thread to keep her tethered to the world, because he knew how easily she would give everything up if he wasn’t in the picture.

As I stared blankly at the tiny screen on the airplane, my tears startling flight attendants as they tried to serve me drinks, I was left to ponder on the tragedy of it all, despite the recognition that this is fiction. I was not the only one so moved by the film’s narrative, with many audience reviews reflecting how the movie destroyed them (emotionally of course). The film was also well received despite being a remake and containing a story that sounds so cliche and melodramatic. This begs the question: Why do we find such tragedy romances appealing?

More Than Blue is by no means a mindblowing movie. It is well-acted and has some interesting visuals, but it is the furthest thing from a Martin Scorsese level of filmmaking. The same could be said for A Walk To Remember and The Fault In Our Stars. It should be depressing to watch movies like this, where we invest in the characters and their relationship only to have to witness the splintering that follows. It is a heartbreaking experience, yet it is an experience we continue to put ourselves through. I knew what I was in for with More Than Blue, since its title promises a story that is sadder than sadness (hence more than blue).

Maybe because it is cathartic in the strangest way. You watch these characters navigate such turbulent terrain, experience such loss, and you get to feel all these experiences with them, yet they are not yours. You get to walk away tragedy-free. It feels like some kind of Russian roulette with a gun that is never loaded. Because of the tragedy, the love they share never gets tainted. It remains as pure as the day it was conceived, sparkling and bright, still holding all the promises it never has to lose.

We all know the inevitable messiness that real life relationships take on, but in a movie like More Than Blue, Cream and K’s love never collapses or dilutes. For a moment there is the hope of unconditional love, even if that means we have fallen into the lapse of being hopelessly romantic.

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