Movies are a great way to pass the time that it takes to heal a broken heart, and they can provide relief from the looping thoughts of your post-breakup mind. Sometimes it’s nice to escape into the world of a sci-fi adventure (my pick would be The Fifth Element), but sometimes it’s nice to watch a movie that dives into the very experience you’re going through right now. So when you’re in the mood for that type of movie, here are what I consider to be the 4 best breakup-related movies (and one documentary) available on Netflix or wherever you stream movies.
An Unmarried Woman (1978)
Jill Clayburgh won the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Award and got an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Erica Benton, a woman who rises from the ashes when her husband leaves her for a younger woman. It was the performance of a lifetime. And I also think it is one of the most classic dancing-in-underwear scenes captured on film. Dare I say Jill Clayburgh > Tom Cruise? I do.
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present (2012)
I hold this one close to my heart because it is about a real breakup. Woven through this documentary on ‘the grandmother of performance art’ is the story of Marina’s 12-year relationship and collaboration with artist Ulay. When they decided to part ways in 1988, they walked towards each other from opposite ends of The Great Wall of China in their last performance as a couple, The Lovers. The walk took three months and they said goodbye when they met in the middle. It is “beyond operatic in its proportion” as one commenter narrates.
Marina said of her breakup with Uly, “It was the most dramatic moment of my life. I remember writing in my diary that I was 40, I was fat, ugly and unwanted. I said, God I lost the man I love and I lost my work, because we were working together. There was nothing there. It was a new beginning or I was going to go down and destroy myself in depression.” And as you’ll see, she did not go down.
This is just a classic comedy, whether you are going through a breakup or not. But if you are going through a breakup, Jon Favreau plays Mike, the perfect heartbroken character to keep you company. Mike is the personification of someone who can’t let go, waiting for his ex to call, neurotically checking his message machine at home and cornering every person he can to talk about his breakup (even potential dates).
You’ll laugh, for sure, but you’ll also be reminded that there is life after heartbreak. In the words of Trent, played by a very young Vince Vaughn: “The best thing you can do is just get back out there.”
View from the Top (1997)
This is one of my favorite movies, and not just because of its 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes or the fact that I’m a huge fan of consciously uncoupled Gwyneth Paltrow. No, I love this movie because it is the story of someone turning heartbreak into an opportunity.
Gwyneth plays Donna who, after being broken up in a birthday card at work, picks herself up and sets her sights on becoming a Royalty Airlines flight attendant to make a better life for herself. And of course, there’s Mike Myers’ performance – I don’t feel hyperbolic when I say it is one of his funniest characters.