Forget about your cliché romantic flicks and your bowl of ice cream (well, maybe you should keep that) and add these to your break up movie marathon.
You’ve probably seen dozens of movie lists that talk about break ups and how cathartic it can be to watch them when going through your own. I know I’ve seen a lot myself. However, the idea of watching unrealistic relationships on the screen, not to mention stories of terrible heartbreak I can't relate to, has never appealed to me. Sure, the stories and the characters can make for a entertaining hour and a half, but watching them as way of processing a break up isn't going to get me anywhere. For me, the worst heartbreak I've ever experienced was actually after a relationship that ended in pretty good terms, and both of us knew it was time to let go for our mental well-being. So, in my quest to find a movie that actually helped me deal with my situation, I found some really good ones that made me feel much better and helped me move on.
What I realized was that I didn’t really need stories that reminded me how miserable I was feeling nor characters who made me feel better because their case was way worse than mine. I needed reassurance that this was just an episode of my life and that things would definitely get better. So, without further ado, here are the movies that helped me get through that hard time in my life, and that I really hope can do the same for you.
Katie and Hubbell
The Way We Were (1973) Dir. Sydney Pollack
This is a story of two people who are completely different from each other and try to understand each other for the sake of their relationship, but it's impossible. Katie is a passionate and determined social activist who would do anything to fight for what she believes in, while Hubbell is a carefree man who doesn’t meddle that much into political issues and likes to enjoy life instead. They lose touch after their graduation, but they meet again years later and rekindle the flame, to the point that they even get married. However, after Hubble cheats on her after the birth of their daughter, the betrayal and their differences end up pulling them apart. What I liked about the movie and what really got me was the fact that even after that terrible divorce, they meet again and end up in pretty good terms, as healthy stable people should, knowing that they weren't meant to be.
Sara and Derek
Save The Last Dance (2001) Dir. Thomas Carter
After a terrible accident ruins Sara’s dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer, she has to move to Chicago with her father, who enrolls her in a school that's mostly African-American and very different from what she's used to. There she meets Derek, an aspiring medical student, and learns what love is, but also gets the support she needs to make her dreams come true. The best thing about this movie, besides the great dancing, is the relationship they have, and although it doesn't end in a break up, it was really helpful to see how important it in a relationship to support each other in their goals no matter what.
Noel and Paul
All the Real Girls (2003) Dir. David Gordon Green
Although it wasn’t very popular, this is a great movie to watch when going through a difficult breakup. It’s the story of Paul, a self-proclaimed womanizer who doesn't have very ambitious aspirations in life. He works at his uncle’s workshop, lives with his mother, and spends his free time hanging out with his friends. That is until he meets Noel, a friend's young sister who has just returned after going to boarding school. She’s a very mature young woman, yet rather naïve and conservative when it comes to relationships. Paul becomes instantly smitten with her, but his notorious past haunts their relationship. This is the perfect story to remind us of the difficulties relationships can go through, and how it’s possible to reconcile your past with what you want for your future.
Jane and John
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) Dir. Doug Liman
I know what you're thinking right now, but bear with me on this one. Leaving aside all the guns and cool action scenes (well, some of them), Jane and John’s relationship can really teach us some good lessons. After being married for a few years, they both feel their relationship has become terribly monotonous, and that there’s no passion anymore. However, that all changes when they are assigned to kill each other and they discover their real identities. While trying to do their job, reluctant to kill the person they love, the feelings they had for each other come back once again. I must admit that I watched this one as a break from my quest, and it ended up on the list because it helped me realize how we tend to take our partner for granted and neglect our relationship (at least that's why mine ended).
Anna and Jacob
Like Crazy (2011) Dir. Drake Doremus
Finally, a heart-wrenching story that will make you shed some good tears. Anna is a British woman studying abroad in the US, where she meets and falls in love with Jacob. They are so in love with each other, that Anna overstays her student visa, forcing her to return to England and put a devastating end to their budding relationship. Although they try having a long-distance relationship, they realize that it isn’t as easy as they thought, even though they truly love each other. The distance ends up becoming an unsurmountable problem in their relationship and pushing them apart. Will their love be enough to bring them back together, or will the distance ruin what they had? And of course, the real question here is: how much would you be willing to risk to be with the one you love?
The classic scene of the girl dealing with heartbreak by eating ice cream and watching romantic flicks might be appealing for some and even quite comforting at first, but if you like using movies as form of therapy, there are other films that can actually make a difference, instead of just making you cry your eyes out with cliché romantic stories.
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