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Perhaps you’re the one walking away. Or maybe you’re the one who’s been left. Kicked to the curb. Dumped over text. Ghosted like a bad dream. However you got here, breaking up is hard to do. Emotions can vary from relief to guilt and gut-wrenching agony.
Most people, at least once in their lives, experience the grief of a breakup. You may think “Did I make a mistake?” “Will I ever find love?” “Will I die alone?” “Will I ever have sex again?”
A pint of Haagen Das only lasts so long, and drowning your sorrows in alcohol can only get you so far. The next day is invariably worse. So how do you deal?
You need an outside force to help move you, to make you cry, to make you laugh, to make you feel anything but this. Below is a list of movies (from tear-jerkers to gut-busters with soul) to help you get your equilibrium back, if even for a short while.
If you’re in need of a good cry, a really good cry, this is the way to go. “Love Story” has all of the emotional torture you’re looking for. Starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw in their prime, it’s full of young, intense, satisfying love with a devastating end. If you’re prone to trolling your exes on Facebook to punish yourself, I suggest watching this movie instead.
More modern but comparable films are “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Now is Good.”
One good crying session most likely isn’t enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve got to get it out of your system.
“My Life,” starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman is a love story of sorts. However, it’s primarily about one man’s delayed (or expedited, depending on how you look at it) emotional journey into greater self-awareness and forgiveness. This happens just as he’s forced to come to terms with his own mortality and as his wife is preparing for the birth of their first and only child.
I’m not giving much away here, it happens in the first five minutes. In true Michael Keaton style, he serves up humor and pathos in one delicious meal. I dare you to watch this and not cry.
Hurt. Lies. Betrayal. Those things leave you crushed and mighty steamed. How better to process this than with a crazy, violent, over-the-top (read: satire), ham-baked revenge movie.
Uma Thurman plays a retired assassin who left the biz for love — only to lose it all at the hands of Bill, her ex. Now she’s hell-bent on tracking him down to exact revenge. If you’re looking for an empowered badass female lead, then “Kill Bill” is the one to watch.
Peter Bretter, from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” shares your pain. Abruptly dumped by his lady love for another guy, he achingly and hilariously tries to get over her. Peter (written and played by Jason Segel) will take you on his humiliating journey, taking all the hits while making you laugh.
If you ever thought “the person I end up with will be/should be such-and-such with a love of whatchamacallits and a degree in what’s it,” then “Crossing Delancey” is a movie for you. Spend too much time focused on your idea of an ideal mate and you run the risk of just not seeing what’s often right in front of you.
This is the journey of Isabelle (starring Amy Irving, when she was Mrs. Spielberg, and the funny Peter Riegert). Nobody dies. There are no car chases or explosions, but this little movie is a gem.
If you’ve started to lose hope that you will ever find love, watching two people take 12 years of friendship to figure it out should make you feel good. Again, I’m not giving anything away — the outcome is baked into the title, “When Harry Met Sally.” Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan deliver plenty of laughs along the way.
In keeping with the over-the-top theme (though, there is nary a female in sight), “Tropic Thunder” is one hilarious movie-inside-a-movie. Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black and a motley crew of comedic actors think they’re making a movie about the Vietnam war.
I know what you’re thinking… what’s funnier than war? They find themselves giving what they think is a performance of a lifetime only to be actually under attack. Filled with surprising cameos, this movie will take you out of your doldrums. For a couple hours, anyway.
This is a modern tale of “Cyrano de Bergerac” with Steve Martin as the big-beaked fire chief named C.D. (aka Cyrano). C.D. has fallen fast and hard for a newcomer to the small town. She’s a brainy and beautiful scientist played by Daryl Hannah.
Watching the beloved, poetic, and fiercely funny C.D. grapple with his deep insecurities over the size of his ridonculous nose gives voice to every diminishing preteen chant that runs through your head. It’s sweet, funny, and uplifting.
This movie made me laugh when I really needed it. It was also unexpectedly moving. It was after my first significant heartbreak. A good friend had come to pick me up and take me out. He arrived to find me puffy-faced and squinty-eyed.
The movie (starring Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, and a whole host of notable actors, including a young Joaquin Phoenix and always interesting Martha Plimpton, with unforgivably bad hair) is about the perils and joys of parenthood. It follows the Buckman family as they struggle to navigate the sheer unpredictability of life.
If you’re lamenting the sorry state of your love life, this medley of intertwining stories can help put things into perspective for you. Watching Jason Robards realize that his youngest of four adult children, whom he adores, will never be the man he thought he had raised will break your heart… again. Yes, in case you’re wondering, this is the movie that spawned the very successful TV series “Parenthood” 20 years later.
For those who delight in scary movies, sometimes the hamster wheel of thoughts that accompany a broken heart is difficult to bear. The miserable rant can be too loud. Thus, you need something to push you outside your own head. Something so jarring that it scares the crap out of you. Enter “The Conjuring.”
Ever fall for a friend who was in love with someone else? Ever had the hots for someone you didn’t actually like? Or worse, didn’t respect? Ever been convinced you could do something well and then spectacularly fail at it? Then you’ll enjoy this sharp, gut-busting, and sometimes gut-wrenching story by Albert Brooks about a love triangle.
This is a movie that delivered some of my all-time favorite lines: “Wouldn’t this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If needy were a turn-on?” and “I’ll meet you at that place by the thing where we went that time.” Another witty reminder that finding love doesn’t usually look like what you think it’s going to look like.
A cautionary tale if ever there was one. If you’re heartbroken and appreciate dark (very dark) comedy, then you may find an anecdote in this flick. What starts out as love and a dream of growing old together turns into a he said, she said crescendo of comeuppance. Really puts things into perspective. Your romantic trials suddenly seem not so bad. Just sayin’.
If the recent dissolve of your relationship has you feeling like everything you touch turns to poop, then I give you “Defending Your Life.” No one plays the unlucky everyman quite like Albert Brooks.
If you’re afraid of falling in love again or are perhaps regretting some life choices, then watching Daniel Miller defend his life in Judgement City should make you feel good about and even laugh at your own imperfections. Even a dead guy gets another chance at love, so if that doesn’t give you hope… then nothing will.
There’s no short route back from Heartbreak Hotel, but there is a way back. I encourage you to take the much-needed time for yourself to mourn and heal instead of jumping right back into the pan. As with every disappointment in life, you’re bound to learn something from the experience. Bouncing back is a process, and processes take time. So curl up with a blanket and settle in for some Netflix. If I’ve learned anything from Albert Brooks, it’s that needy may not be attractive, but it’s very human.