17 of the Best Breakup Movies to Watch When You’re Moving On
Breakup movies are like cinematic comfort food. You may be too much of a chicken to chop off all your hair or even throw away pictures of your ex, but you can always indulge in a breakup movie binge. Breakups are inevitable until you find ~true love~ (or whatever) so we know people relate hard to films about relationship schisms and how tough it can be to move on. Plus, breakup movies come in so many different varieties, it’s easy to find the one that suits you! Sad and want to cry a whole ton? Check. Sad but want to actually laugh again? Check. There are even movies that fit both of those categories!
Whether you’re actually ending a relationship or in romantic bliss, no one can deny how fun a breakup movie can be. Where else are we supposed to get perfect revenge ideas?! While they’re best suited for those suffering the end of love, breakup movies are cathartic no matter what your situation is. We’ve all loved and lost and watching others go through it on screen is relatable AF! Here are some of the greatest breakup movies of all time!
Crazy, Stupid, Love
This movie proves that sometimes breakups aren’t forever. Cal’s (Steve Carell) wife reveals to him one night that she has cheated on him and wants a divorce. For a bit, this leads to some womanizing and soul-searching. But eventually he realizes one thing: sometimes you need to fight for love. Several romantic stories weave through this story but the main couple we’re rooting for is Cal and his wife, who just need to find their way back to each other. This is the perfect breakup movie for a relationship that may not be totally over yet!
This is undoubtedly one of the most violent breakup movies of all time. When you basically want to murder your ex post-breakup, this is the movie to watch! The Bride (Uma Thurman) is almost murdered by a team of assassins let loose on her by her former lover and the father of her unborn child. After surviving the attack (and a shot to the face!) she spends years training and preparing to get revenge on the assassin group that attacked her and the ex that orchestrated it all. We’ve all said we could kill our ex after a relationship ends badly, but The Bride did the damn thing!
(500) Days of Summer
This is an unconventional breakup movie for the simple reason that it feels more true to life than most movies on this list. While many “relationship movies” go through the motions of the adorable first meeting to falling in love to ugly breakup to eventual reconciliation, this film takes the road less traveled. It covers the uncertain relationship between Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) over the course of 500 days. There are happy moments, “define the relationship” woes, and an eventual breakup when Summer admits she isn’t certain about Tom. But from the breakup comes hope. Summer gets married soon after they end things because she found someone she was sure about — something she knows Tom will find, too. This breakup tale provides a little bit of hope that after a breakup, bigger and better things may be right down the line.
The First Wives Club
Here we have the ultimate revenge comedy. Three women vow revenge on their philandering husbands when they leave them for younger women. The women scheme and manipulate to make their former husbands lives hell. One even buys out her husbands firm so she owns his job! Damn, that is the level of petty we aspire to be. Sometimes men are worth reconciling with. But, more often than not, they’re cheating scum looking for the next hot young thing. While we love the breakup movies that encourage us to move on, we also love watching women deliver retribution!
This is a very different sort of breakup film, but it definitely merits inclusion. When Amy (Rosamund Pike) learns that her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) has been cheating on her, she doesn’t confront him. No, instead she comes up with an elaborate plan and frames him for her murder. That’s one way to get revenge on a cheater! While her plan doesn’t end up sending Nick to the electric chair as she hoped, it did show us that we’re not that crazy for keying our ex’s car or whatever. Sure, maybe this is an extreme example but don’t try to act like you don’t relate a bit.
Music store manager Rob (John Cusack) has been dumped by his latest girlfriend and attempts to understand why he keeps failing at love. He seeks out old flames, asks friends and customers, and turns to music to figure out why he can’t make it work in any relationship. His soul-searching works and he and his lady love end up reconciling. Sometimes all a person needs is to grow up a little bit to make love work!
Under the Tuscan Sun
Many of the best breakup movies have nothing to do with the relationship itself and everything to do with rebuilding your life post-breakup. This film has that plus gorgeous Italian vistas. What more could you want?! When Frances (Diane Lane) learns that her husband has been cheating on her, she leaves him but also finds herself in a deep depression. Her best friend suggests a trip to Italy which turns into her spontaneously purchasing a Tuscan Villa. As one does. She reinvents her life, far from her ex, and rediscovers happiness. Screw the ex, love yourself!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Have you ever been in a relationship that turned so toxic you just wanted to forget it ever happened? That’s exactly how Clementine (Kate Winslet) felt after her breakup with Joel (Jim Carrey), and luckily for her, she lives in a movie-universe where there is a procedure you can undergo to erase memories. Both of them eventually undergo the procedure in an attempt to move on with their lives. It’s a breakup so bad you have to have a medical procedure to forget all about it! If only our attempts to get over bad relationships could go that far in real life.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Sometimes relationships end and it’s no one’s fault and there is no big reason. They just end. For Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) this is what happened to their marriage. They met and married young, and while they still got along well, the spark in their relationship was long gone by the time they decided to separate. They realize that although their split is difficult to navigate, in the end, it’s for the best. Not every breakup has to be life-ending, but most are life-changing. Sometimes that life change is a good one!
If we’ve learned anything from Under the Tuscan Sun, it’s that the best genre of breakup movies is “women getting cheated on and visiting foreign countries on vacation.” Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) have both been jolted by love and in the wake of their breakups, they swap homes for two weeks. The two hop across the pond (Iris to the U.S., Amanda to England) and seek solace in some alone time for reinvention. Oh, and obviously fall in love with two handsome strangers in their temporary new homes! If we’re learning anything from these breakup movies, it’s that sometimes after a breakup you just need a vacay to get your head back on straight!
Kramer vs. Kramer
While most breakup movies focus on the emotional consequences of a split, this one explores the legal issues that can also arise. Ted’s (Dustin Hoffman) wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) leaves him and his son one day, saying she needs to go find herself. Months go by where Ted and his son fend for themselves and learn to live life without Joanna. But then she reappears wanting custody of their son — the one she left! Their breakup has resounding consequences not only for them but for the life of their young child. Luckily, everything works out for this family in the end. But it just goes to show that breakups can affect far more than just the two people in the relationship!
The Wedding Singer
Breakups suck. They suck even more when you’re a wedding singer and have to sing all about lurve for days on end post-split. When Robbie’s (Adam Sandler) fiancé breaks his heart, he finds himself unable to do his job. His depression deepens until he meets Julia (Drew Barrymore) and she convinces him to help plan her wedding. Wouldn’t ya know it, love blossoms between the heartbroken singer and the waitress who really isn’t in love with her soon-to-be husband.
Most people know The Notebook as one of the most romantic movies of all time. But at its core, it’s a breakup movie. Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Racehl McAdams) fall fast and hard when they first meet in their teen years. But their summer affair ends when Allie goes back from where she came and the two lose touch for several years. It’s in their post-breakup lives that they find themselves before eventually meeting again and realizing what they had was real. But to get to that point they had to split and discover themselves. Breakups aren’t always a curse, sometimes they’re a blessing!
John Tucker Must Die
Moral of this movie: men are scum and deserve everything they have coming to them. John Tucker (Jesse Metcalfe) is the school hottie who dates women from multiple different cliques around the school so that they won’t interact and know that he’s dating them all at once. When the women converge and realize what a jerk Jesse really is, they use the new girl in school to seduce and destroy the womanizer and get their revenge. Sure, it gets a little complicated. But before feelings get involved, the idea of pure, blissful revenge on a philandering loser is amazing!
This movie is literally named after a breakup, so of course, it’s on the list! Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vinve Vaughn) have been in a serious relationship for a while and even bought a condo together. But after a string of arguments, Brooke ends it with Gary, citing his immaturity and resistance to improve things in their relationship. Little issue: The two still live together through the entirety of their breakup. Yikes! But in the wake of their split, they’re able to consider the others issues and work on improving their weak spots. At the end of the day, that kind of growth is the best case scenario after a breakup!
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is the ultimate inspiration for how to survive a breakup. After her pretentious ex breaks her heart because she isn’t serious enough, she proves to him just how serious she can be. By that we mean she gets into Harvard law school, excels, and ends up with a much better job than her crappy ex come graduation. Is there any better way to bounce back after a breakup?! We doubt it. Elle’s law school plan begins as a conceit to get her man back, but in the end, she realizes she doesn’t need him. She only needs herself and her brains to succeed in life. Oh, and Luke Wilson because Emmett is a perfect movie man (girl rebounded right!).
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Who says breakup movies have to be dismal? Forgetting Sarah Marshall may be the funniest breakup movie on this list and definitely one of the most cathartic. After his girlfriend breaks up with him, Peter (Jason Segal) decides to take a trip to Hawaii to get over his grief and relax a little. Too bad his ex and her new beau are at the same damn resort. How does that even happen?! It leads to uncomfortable reveals, a little bit of healing, and Russell Brand being funny AF. Despite his ex being there the entire time, Peter is able to take time for himself and make friends on the island. He’s finally able to create a life outside of the one he had with his ex where he leaned on her for everything. Independence is the greatest gift one can get from a breakup!