20 Breakup Movies That’ll Help You Get Over That Relationship
Here are the best movies about love and loss that can soothe your broken heart and give you some hope about the next chapter.
In this classic breakup movie, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn play a couple who seem to have it all—until the perfect vision comes crashing down. Vaughn’s character wants to play video games while Aniston’s wants help with the dishes. Just when you think it can’t get worse it does when he invites other women to their shared apartment. Then she starts noticing there are other fish in the sea. They seem to love each other, so why can’t they work this out? Sometimes it’s just not meant to be (and here’s what you should do right after you break up.)
Diane Keaton shines as a quirky New Yorker in this classic comedy that made breaking up seem like the key to romance. Woody Allen stars as the man who loves her but can’t seem to hold her down. It’s Boy Meets Girl. Boy is Too Neurotic to Keep Girl. Girl Moves On. Still, when Annie and Alvy meet at the end, there’s a wistful romance to what could have been, but will never be, that will remind you of your own near-misses.
This true story romance about the poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne is gorgeous and oh-so-tragic. The movie captures the essence of poetry itself in scenes that look in on a room full of butterflies and long walks in windy brush. Keats leaves his love Fanny, pulled away by an illness. It’s supposed to be a temporary break, just until he can recover from tuberculosis. Fanny can’t unlatch from her attachment to the man who calls her “Bright Star.” He sees her true essence, which gives her strength even without him. (Psst: Here’s why couples get back together after a breakup.)
This love triangle set in a newsroom stars Holly Hunter as an ambitious producer caught between two reporters. John Hurt is the handsome anchor and Albert Brooks is an intellectual with barrels of passion, but not as much charisma. Hunter wants the hunk, and Brooks does everything he can to keep them apart. He succeeds! When the three meet again years later, they’ve all moved on. Watch Broadcast News when you need a breakup movie that reminds you that your career and personal talent are just as important as matters of the heart.
It’s positively shocking when Humphrey Bogart sends Ingrid Bergman off with Laszlo at the end of Casablanca. Yes, they’ll always have Paris, but the audience is rooting for the two of them to stay together. It’s considered one of the most romantic breakup movies of all time, but this classic is also famous for putting practicality first. Bogart explains to Bergman that she would regret staying with him. And with that, he sends her safely into the plane waiting for her on the foggy tarmac. Don’t forget the issues—it’s a total tearjerker. But not to worry—crying is good for you.
La La Land
This zesty musical follows Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as they soft-shoe their way towards fame in Hollywood. They fall in love, but it’s the same old story. He’s got to go on tour with John Legend’s band. And she has to stay behind to work on her one-woman play. But then she gets her big break and a job in Paris that pulls her toward movie stardom, but away from Gosling. The two grow apart. But when they glimpse one another in a night club years later, we get a melancholy gaze at what might have been.
He’s Just Not That Into You
In this ensemble romantic comedy, most of the characters get happy endings, lots of them unexpected. Not Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Connelly though. They play a married couple trying to work through a betrayal. Connelly wants to forgive her philandering husband. And she tries. But in the end, they both end up alone. By the interview segment that ends the film, Cooper is feeling the loss–and you probably won’t feel sympathy. (Psst: Here are therapist-approved ways for dealing with dating rejection.)
Nights in Rodanthe
Diane Lane takes a weekend gig as the caretaker of a beachside bed and breakfast, just long enough for Richard Gere to come along and win her heart. He’s a curmudgeonly surgeon in for the weekend to make peace with a former patient’s family. But that’s just the side dish, because it’s all about the romance with Diane Lane. But their love story isn’t meant to be, despite some passionate letter-writing. James Franco shows up as Gere’s son to deliver some bad news.
Meryl Streep acts her heart out as usual in this Nora Ephron novel adaptation about a husband who cheats. Jack Nicholson plays the unlikeable guy—who has an affair while Streep is pregnant with the couple’s second child. She tries to make it work, but in the end, she figures out, along with the rest of us, that’s she’s better off without him and everything’s going to be okay. (Psst: Here are the signs your partner may be cheating on you.)
Romeo and Juliet
This Shakespeare play is considered one of the greatest love stories of all time—even though the lovebirds do not end up together. One of the best versions stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes as the young sweethearts who can’t seem to catch a break. With family and society opposing their match, they’re up against the world. And we all have to feel the tragic sting when the two prove they would rather die than be apart. Looking to lighten the mood?
Paris Blues brings together dashing leading men Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman as expatriate jazz musicians in the Paris nightclub scene. Soon enough, they pair up with two American tourists vacationing abroad played by Diahann Carroll and Joanne Woodward (Newman’s real-life wife). You’ll fall in love with the City of Lights setting. Louis Armstrong appears to play the score composed by Duke Ellington. The two couples fall in love, but the jazz men need the relaxed, Paris vibe, and the women? They have a train to catch. Get ready for tortured romance and emotional goodbye speeches and kisses at a train station.
(Psst: Here’s the secret to having a successful relationship.)
My Best Friend’s Wedding
This classic rom-com stars Julia Roberts as a woman who wants to destroy her best friend’s wedding. (Said friend is played by Dermot Mulroney.) After he announces his engagement, Robert’s character decides she actually wants to marry him. Watch it when you need to get over someone who you probably don’t want anyway. When they’re not the right one, it’s time to let them go.
Waiting to Exhale
Waiting to Exhale will get you through a breakup because it focuses on the relationships that really matter—like the ones you have with your best girlfriends. Based on the bestselling Terry McMillan novel, the story dives into the lives of four friends dealing with love and heartache. Don’t miss the fantastic scenes with Angela Bassett as a wife who takes fiery revenge on her cheating husband’s belongings. This will satisfy when you need some breakup movie rage-watching. (Psst: Learn about the ways women are different from men.)
The Squid and the Whale
Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story seems one of the quintessential breakup movies about divorce, but before that film he made the quieter masterpiece The Squid and the Whale. Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels play writers going through a divorce and sharing custody of their sons. The eldest is played by Jesse Eisenberg as a teenager grappling with his parent’s struggles and having his own problems in the love department. Watch it for the brilliant final sequence that captures the battles at the heart of relationships that end.
Bette Davis shines as a dowdy spinster who undergoes a remarkable makeover just in time to fall in love with an unavailable married man. The two meet on a cruise and become embroiled in a relationship that must remain platonic despite their concealed passions. The film ends with the famous quip for holding your head high in the face of lost love. Davis gives a stellar delivery of “Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the moon. We have the stars.” (Here are the early signs a relationship just won’t last.)
When you’re aching to fall into a sweet world with an edge of sharpness, watch Edward Scissorhands. Director Tim Burton infused this film with his signature surrealist style. You’ll find wacky premises and expressionistic visuals. Johnny Depp plays a Frankenstein-like person, created by an inventor, and left with actual scissors for hands. He tries to blend in with an average family in suburbia, but when he falls in love with the teenage daughter (Winona Ryder) it becomes the tale of the cruelty faced by anyone who’s different.
A Star is Born
Any of the four cinematic versions of A Star is Born are worth your while if you’re in the mood for a romance that starts out great and then dives into tragedy. The story was most recently remade with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in the leading roles. He’s a superstar who spots her undeniable talent. The two fall in love while her stardom takes off. Once it starts to outshine his, the relationship takes a turn for the worst. The two stars weren’t dating when they made the movie, despite the rumors. (Psst: Did you know love at first sight doesn’t actually exist?)
If you find your heart icing over, then take comfort in the gorgeous cinematography of ice-covered chateaus and frozen terrain in Doctor Zhivago. Omar Sharif and Julie Christie play lovers married to other people and caught up in the turmoil of the Russian revolution. It’s the perfect movie to watch if you’re always catching glimpses of your lost love on the street or failing to meet up with them at train stations. Give in to the beauty of longing with this classic movie with a glorious musical score.
Far from Heaven
Julianne Moore stars in this homage to 1950s melodramas that imitates their sumptuous colours, costumes, and sweeping musical scores. In the update, Moore plays a housewife enamored with her gardener, played by the dashing Dennis Haysbert. However, her narrow-minded society disapproves of the match. After her husband leaves her for another man, she longs for love. (Psst: Learn about the worst lie you could ever tell your partner.)
The Bridges of Madison County
Meryl Streep plays an Iowan farm wife who falls for a charming loner who happens upon her stead when the hubby and kids are away at the state fair. Clint Eastwood (who also directed) plays the soulful photographer who woos her. It was based on a bestselling novel by Robert James Waller, and provides the perfect salve for thinking about the one who got away. After the tryst, he begs her to leave it all behind and take off with him. You’ll love the rain-swept scene when she makes the heart-wrenching decision.
Next, read about how woman learnt to be truly happy on her own.