The Tearsmith: Is it a True Story? What’s the Meaning of the Title?

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

Every romance story has a hint of a fairy tale in it. Be it the tale of young love, the one that has a happy ending, or something a bit tragic, if it’s a romance story, one can find hints of fairy tales in it. The same can be said about Netflix’s ‘The Tearsmith.’ It follows the story of two young adults, Nica and Rigel, who are trying to deal with the trauma they have suffered at the hands of the warden of the orphanage where they grew up. At the same time, they also come to terms with their feelings for each other, which become more complicated when they are adopted by the same couple. As Nica narrates their story, she repeatedly mentions the tale of “the Tearsmith.” What is this tale, and what meaning does it hold for Nica and Rigel’s tragic romance? SPOILERS AHEAD

The Tearsmith Creates a Fairy Tale of Its Own

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

At the beginning of the film, Nica tells the audience the fairytale of a man who created tears. She talks about a place that has been so devoid of emotions that no one cries there anymore. This place is haunted by the soullessness of its people, who eventually become so desperate to feel anything that they turn toward the Tearsmith. The character of the Tearsmith in the story is described as a pale, hunched person who lives in the shadows. It is only when people come to him, asking to make them cry, that he fills their eyes with his own tears and helps them feel things, be it happiness, anger, sorrow, or anything else.

While there are all kinds of fairy tales, the story of the Tearsmith seems to have been created by author Erin Doom, on whose novel the film is based, tailor-made to suit the story of Nica and Rigel. The idea of writing the story came to the author while reading about adoption and foster care laws. She read the accounts of some people who had lived in orphanages and had terrible experiences that scarred them for life. She was stuck by how these places that were supposed to provide them with comfort and support were turned into nightmares by the people in charge. But in those stories, she also found the love and support that the children found within each other and how they kept each other going despite everything.

It was while considering this scenario that the author thought of a place like Sunnycreek Orphanage, which is later called Grave by the children because they feel like all their happiness and dreams have died there. In creating the character of its warden, Margaret, she thought of a person who traumatized the children so much that they would have to turn off their emotions to survive. If they cry, they are seen as weak and are punished even more. So, they teach themselves not to feel anything, not to cry, no matter what happens, and then perhaps, they will be able to survive the place.

Image Credit: Loris T. Zambelli/Netflix

It is a terrible thing not to be able to feel anything because if it prevents people from feeling sadness and pain, it also prevents them from experiencing happiness and love. If they can’t cry tears of sadness, they can’t cry tears of joy either. In such a condition, a person needs something, an anchor to hold on to, something or someone that will keep them emotionally stable and prevent them from being completely detached. They will need someone who can make them feel, someone who can make them cry. And that’s where the story of the Tearsmith comes in.

Much like the people in Nica’s fairy tale, she and other children in Grave, including Rigel, have emotionally repressed themselves not to feel anything anymore. While the other kids have bonded and found support in one another, Margaret has isolated Rigel, and this has made him even more detached. He finds it impossible to share his emotions with anyone, and this makes him feel like a monster because he cannot see himself on the same page as the other kids.

It is when Nica comes to the orphanage that Rigel starts to feel the emotions stir inside him. It is she who makes him feel angry, sad, happy, and ecstatic. It is for her that he feels like crying, and this makes her his Tearsmith, something that he admits to her later. In the same vein, when Nica tries to detach herself from her situation emotionally, it is Rigel who provides her the support not to lose herself to the darkness of Grave. He saves her mother’s necklace; he holds her hand when she is scared of the dark. He even cuts his own hand to distract Margaret and save Nica from getting punished. This intense wave of emotions that Nica and Rigel spur for each other makes them one another’s Tearsmith, fulfilling the meaning of the story’s title.

Read More: The Tearsmith: Is Sunnycreek Home aka Grave a Real Orphanage?