Sick at the cinema: the most gut-wrenching moments that have squeezed their way into otherwise respectable movies
By now you must have heard the hyperbole surrounding Todd Haynes’ Carol, a 50s lesbian love story praised for its stellar acting, 16mm cinematography, period detail, set design, soaring score, sincere romance, colour palette, eye-catching wardrobe, and just about everything else.
But why don’t the posters mention the fact that Carol boasts the most poetic vomit scene of the year? We may be desensitised to onscreen blood and gore, but puke still has a visceral power, especially if you’re the kind of person who involuntarily spews at the sight of sick. So let’s pay tribute to the year’s best throwing-up scenes – like an undercooked meal, you’ll be seeing these again.
ROONEY MARA IN CAROL
Carol documents the struggle to bottle up emotions in a repressed era. For Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, their forbidden love is too strong to withhold, but too dangerous to reveal. At the thought of losing Blanchett, Mara vomits on the side of the road, spilling out from her mouth all the feelings she’s not allowed to express in public. Splattered in the grass, the vomit spells out a thousand heartbroken words.
KRISTEN STEWART IN CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
K-Stew becomes K-Spew as she zigzags across a jagged road, listening to Primal Scream’s “Kowalski” – a frenetic jam track, overdubbed with stereo samples, designed for such a scene. Stewart’s puking incident signals a turning point when her character can no longer handle the dizzying mountain environment. Luckily, Olivier Assayas is an ultra-cool French director; she twirls a cigarette and chills out as if it’s no big deal.
JOSH SUSSMAN IN TANGERINE
It’s Christmas Eve, so the backseat taxi vomiting starts in daylight with a drunk ruining a driver’s mood and upholstery. The throwing up is gross, graphic and slapstick gold, made even funnier because it’s an actor from Glee. It’s also real, confirmed by director Sean Baker who’s featured authentic, honest-to-god puke in all his films to date. Stay for the credits to learn the character’s name. (He’s called Retch Chunder.)
MELISSA MCCARTHY IN SPY
Paul Feig got Melissa McCarthy to do a number two in a sink for Bridesmaids, and in Spy she’s tasked with projectile vomiting onto a dead body from a third-floor balcony. Despite killing a guy, McCarthy comes across as somewhat relatable and human, despite the very non-human nature of the CGI sick. Perhaps the James Bond franchise would be less dull if he could heave into his Aston Martin from time to time.
SAOIRSE RONAN IN BROOKLYN
Already in the running for Best Actress at the Oscars, Ronan has a readymade awards ceremony clip demonstrating her range and what she shouldn’t have eaten on a bumpy transatlantic boat trip. Not merely throwing up, but achieving full-on seasickness defines her character early on as a young Irish woman unprepared for a new life in America. In the film’s most poignant scene, she’s learned her lesson and skips the ship’s meal. Once again, vomit saves the day.
EVERYONE IN WHILE WE’RE YOUNG
Noah Baumbach’s midlife crisis comedy picks on ayahuasca as a trend that mystifies forty-somethings Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. Following the lead of Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, the oldies digest the brew that forces brave (or bored) participants to vomit out their guts while hallucinating – presumably to forget the horrible experience they’ve talked themselves into. Supposedly a spiritual activity, it instead sparks an adulterous make-out sesh with no chewing gum on hand.
Carol is out in cinemas Friday November 27