The poet Rumi used to say that the pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow, and this is more true than ever after a romantic breakup, when “What do I do now” becomes the question over and over again, seemingly echoing in our thoughts.
Unfortunately, life has a cruel way of reminding us of its unpredictability by breaking our hearts when we are happiest. Still, we must be like a book and always know how to turn the page.
Fortunately for us, amid these unexpected emotional storms, there are the fantasy worlds offered by cinema with their endless rainbow of emotions, adventures, and laughter; that is, a safe haven where we can find solace and calmly put the little pieces of our soul back together.
In these worlds, you will find characters who, like us, have had their moments of despair but, with stubbornness and luck, have found their way back up and be happy again.
So, without further ado, here is a list of movies to watch after a breakup that can help you find your way to healing, one smile and one sweet emotion at a time.
Table of contents
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
We begin in an ordinary French town by following the life of young student Adèle, a girl struggling to understand herself and her aspirations, including her sexuality.
She struggles with loneliness and inadequacy daily despite being surrounded by friends and a boyfriend who seems to care about her.
But her mundane world suddenly ends when by chance, she meets Emma, a mysterious and outgoing artist with beautiful bright blue hair.
The attraction is immediate and inexplicable, unleashing an uncontrollable passion that releases Adele’s sexuality and brings the girls together.
So she discovers that the world is bigger and more wonderful than she thought, knowing emotions that, until before, she only fantasized about being alone in her bed.
However, having vented the initial paradise, their personalities and interests are too different, and sex is not enough to keep them together forever.
At that point, Adele has to carry on without what seemed like her perfect soul mate, although it will be because of her betrayal that they end up breaking up.
What do we lose and gain when we find love? This is the question director Abdellatif Kechiche asks us, directly through the mouth of one of his characters, from the story’s beginning.
I admit to not knowing the young Adèle Exarchopoulos before this movie. Still, we experience the full strength of what she finds in passion or she does after the breakup through her dreamy gaze, which is always a little lost in the void.
Especially when we are teenagers, love envelops everything in our lives, leaving no room for anything else, not even, for example, realizing that the wonderful artist played by Léa Seydoux is not the ideal partner you thought.
For those looking for an honest and sincere story, I wouldn’t know what else to recommend better.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
From France, we fly to America in the Philadelphia suburbs, where we meet wacky Pat Solitano, a former teacher with recently diagnosed bipolar disorder.
After spending time in a mental institution following a violent breakdown, Pat returns to his family, determined to regain control of his life and win back his wife.
Too bad the task is far from easy because the woman is so fed up with him that she applies for a restraining order preventing him from even getting close.
His family is no better off since his father is always on the verge of losing their restaurant by compulsively betting on football.
Amid this giant mess, Pat meets the pushy Tiffany, a young widow who is much talked about in the neighborhood because of her exuberant sex life.
What’s more, the girl is a friend of his wife’s, and she tells him to deliver a peace-making letter if, in return, though, he agrees to participate with her in a dance contest.
When Pat’s father bets everything he has on another game and loses, he gets one last chance to make up if the two amateur dancers can at least get a middle score.
Finally, we add the experience of a veteran like Robert De Niro in the role of the idiopathic father; we have all the ingredients of a rom-com with the most bizarre advice on what to do to get over a love breakup.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
For the next story, we move to the relaxing Hawaiian beaches, where we find Peter Bretter, a modestly successful musician, vacationing, being dumped after five years by his beloved girlfriend, television actress Sarah Marshall.
Upset and during emotional chaos, Peter tries to bring some peace to his broken heart but ironically ends up in the same hotel as Sarah and her new boyfriend, a well-known British hit singer.
If nothing else, he also gets to know Rachel, a charming hotel employee who is sweet, open, and lovely; in short, everything his ex-girlfriend was not in the slightest.
However, as he becomes closer to his new friend, he discovers that she, too, has her own emotional scars to deal with, so it’s hard to mindlessly jump into a new romantic adventure.
Meanwhile, his ex and her new boyfriend are falling apart, opening up a chance for him to win her back, except that he’s no longer sure she’s the one he really wants.
Judd Apatow is a guarantee for romantic comedies, such as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, where he lightly blends humor and sentiment while delighting audiences in laughter and heartfelt emotion.
Simply irrepressible and on top of everyone is the sensational Russell Brand, a musician in real life as well, whose attitude of “doing what you want without restrictions” serves as a warning for overcoming a breakup, suggesting self-discovery and independence as a remedy rather than looking for an identical replacement for the lost partner.
Sex & Mrs. X (2000)
Rolling back and forth with the cinematic world map, we again return to France for this all-female romantic adventure, but not before briefly passing through New York City.
Indeed, the story begins with Linda, an American journalist working for a fashion magazine, whose (humdrum) ordinary life is turned upside down when her marriage breaks down, and her husband dumps her for a co-worker.
In search of a new perspective and some getaway, she leaves for Paris for an interview that could breathe new life into her career.
Once she reaches the City of Lights, Linda meets a fascinating mystery woman known only as Mrs. X.
This woman of great elegance and style is a celebrity in Parisian high society, although she keeps a low profile and rarely shows up in public.
Although at first, she appears to be merely a paid sex broker, Mrs. X wins her interest and becomes a source of inspiration for Linda.
However, her advice doesn’t stop at just clothes and hairstyle since the matron restores the wounded woman’s newfound self-confidence, though, of course, she must go through the ordeal of confronting her cheating husband.
Arthur Allan Seidelman may have a limited amount of filmmaking talent, using a purely TV-style direction; however, he makes the most of the cast by pairing the American starlet with the British Jacqueline Bisset, a monster of European cinema and beyond since the 1960s.
Both will help each other when the other doesn’t know what to do to get over a painful breakup, making for a naughty and tastefully spicy women-only comedy.
Our final step on this feelings journey is back to America, specifically 1990s Los Angeles.
The long-suffering lover in this story is Mike, an aspiring actor struggling with the end of a lifelong relationship.
Having moved to the city about six months ago, he tries to navigate through single life with the help of his friend Trent, a confident heartthrob full of unsolicited advice on how to win women.
With a group of friends, Trent teaches Mike the art of swinging, a free and uninhibited lifestyle, by moving from one partner to another to help him get over his ex and find new love interests.
As time passes, Mike begins to notice that despite the many girls he meets and the parties he attends, his sadness persists.
He then sets out to let loose in this maze of night lights, jazz music, and complicated friendships, making a trip that leads him to open up to new and unexpected possibilities of love and more.
This remains undoubtedly the best and most genuine movie from Doug Liman, a director who would later switch to action with the Jason Bourne saga.
It is an orgy of quotes ranging from Reservoir Dogs to Goodfellas, starring the likable Jon Favreau, whom we all remember as Happy, the bungling sidekick of the superhero Iron Man.
Leading him through a Los Angeles full of aspiring actors and comedians is Vince Vaughn, another hugely underrated actor in the Hollywood business who rarely receives the acting freedom he deserves.
It’s a story that’s one long, fun evening of meddlesome friends, ready to pry into what we should or shouldn’t do to get over a love breakup, even if their lives are more messed up than the protagonist.