‘Zoe Dzunko Recommends: Crying in a Cinema’, by Zoe Dzunko

Zoe is one of the incoming editors of our print magazine (Annabel Brady-Brown is the other incoming editor), taking over from Ellena Savage and Gillian Terzis. In order to celebrate the imminent release of Zoe’s first issue, TLB31, today we are republishing a piece of Zoe’s that we first published in TLB24.


I know what you’re thinking: ugh. Stay with me a minute, though, because I’m speaking to you from the future. I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not much of a crier—I’m especially dubious about the public cry, which seems at times to me a particular brand of gross intemperance—and neither are you, because you’re decent. In actual fact, I can count the number of times I’ve devolved into an embarrassing, wet-faced, blasphemer of inviolable social conduct, aka, I did it and here is the list.

  1. Kindergarten: my soon-to-be forever enemy throws an irregularly large pinecone at my crotch.

  2. My pony thrice refuses the first jump at a gymkhana and I’m promptly eliminated. I cry the way only an affronted ten-year-old girl can, mostly because I like blue-coloured ribbons a lot more than I like invisible ribbons, and that bad boy was so mine. It’s really humiliating to be this bad at something publicly, but more embarrassing for my parents, who must own up to begetting me.

  3. The year is 2003 and Jonathan Brandis—former star of seaQuest DSV, and demigod of my wholly vanilla prepubescent fantasies—is cruelly taken from us at the tender age of 27. Never mind that I am sixteen at this point and cannot remember what JB looks like; I get dirty, anyway, one of many in a teen tear-bath of liturgical proportions.

  4. I think somebody stole my handbag on my 27th birthday.

  5. Yesterday, Sunday August 17 (approximate time: 12.30pm) during a screening of What Now? Remind Me.

So it’s difficult to cry about things of real import. Tired platitude or not, it’s often true that broken shoelaces or car-puddle-splashes, all of those down-and-out scenarios played out in film montages, end up being the ones that kind of break us. This is why a cinema—necessitating that you sit prone and wait to be moved; basically the sweet spot between self-flagellation and real empathy—is conducive to a proper cry. Given few of us find time to do things that are fundamentally good for us, the cinema cry is a sublime act of multitasking. So, yesterday, I did it. I felt all of the good things about being human, essentially the crux of this film, and the crying felt different: soft and vulnerable in a nice way, one that wasn’t self-indulgent or artificial, just really good.