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8 Heartbreaking Voiceover Letters In Films

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    God, the voiceover letter. You know the one. Where someone’s left someone else, or died, and has the cheek to write a devastating letter about it and then read it out aloud in the recipient's head. Then some subtle, emotive music starts playing over the top of the penman's voice as the poor reader and you – the far too invested watcher – begin to realise that the person who wrote the letter is in fact the only person you'll ever truly love.

    There are letters that serve the plot – think Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Atonement – and then there are voiceover letters, which more often than not have nothing to do with the plot, existing solely to make you cry. Taking an already devastating scene and burying it in a black hole of despair, the voiceover letter is the screenwriter's final calling card – more powerful, even, than the death itself.

    Better suited to the period drama because a voiceover email just doesn't pack the same punch, the voiceover letter is a rare commodity in modern cinema. Here, we relay the eight films we could think of containing the tragic trope.

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    The Fault In Our Stars *Spoiler

    Apologies for the poor quality of this video but bloody hell, this is the mother of all tragic voiceover letters. The dreamboat that is Augustus Waters (played by Ansel Elgort) writes a letter to Hazel (played by Shailene Woodley) before he dies, which in classic voiceover style, she doesn't receive until after his death.

    Knowing that he was going to die, Augustus asked Hazel to write a eulogy for his funeral, which she reads out to him before he dies, and the letter is him writing one back for her. The Fault In Our Stars breaks out of the shackles of the teen romance genre, and this letter – comprising the final scene – is really very beautiful.

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    1 of 8

    The Notebook

    "I couldn't sleep last night because I know that it's over between us" reads Noah in Allie's head as she sits in the car finally reading the 365 letters he wrote her in the year after they broke up. She'd be forgiven for skim-reading a few... This letter ends with the old Noah, reading it aloud to the old Allie as they sit sweetly on a bench before you know what happens.

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    2 of 8

    Ain't Them Bodies Saints

    Casey Affleck stars alongside Rooney Mara in this well underrated film by director David Lowery that strings together a series of stunningly beautiful moments. Casey Affleck is known for his raspy voice, and it transforms this letter from a bit simple to a heartfelt expression of love. "I'm so close to you I can almost reach out and touch your cheek..."

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    Me, Earl and the Dying Girl *Spoiler

    Apologies again for the poor quality of the video. Greg is on Rachel's bed reading a letter she wrote him before she – don't make us say it, it's still too painful. Everything about this film is painful, except for the times where it's really funny and sweet and everything an indie film could be.

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    The Shawshank Redemption

    What if he hadn’t remembered the name of the town? Andy Dufresne’s note to Red (Morgan Freeman) is the most uplifting of voiceover letters but it’s a bastard to get to – Red has to travel to a dirt track, wander to a field, and scour a comically long wall to find that one grey rock (inconveniently hiding under another similar looking rock) where, beneath lots of dirt, is a box, that contains the fallowed piece of paper.