Who gets into a little of the Valentine’s Day blues when the holiday is fast approaching? I know I do sometimes. Well even if the holiday isn’t to blame, and you’re still feeling a little blue, check out my list of heartbreaking romance films and let out a good cry–we all need to once in a while.
1. The Notebook
If you hear the names Noah and Allie in the same sentence, you know what’s about to go down. The Notebook, one of the most known of all the tragic, heartbreaking, and just straight up sad romance films—takes the cake and makes it as #1 on my list. One out of a VERY long list of depressing romance novels penned by Nicholas Sparks (srsly, does he love making people sad??), to make it to the big screen—this one guarantees tears. Watching Noah and Allie’s story play out, being told by an older man to his female companion is gloomy enough—until we discover that he is the older Noah, trying to bring his love out of her dementia and remember him. This film is an emotional rollercoaster, but totally worth the ride. You realize what love truly is, and how far one will go to fight for it. And you get to watch Ryan Gosling too, so extra bonus.
How can you talk about tragic romances and not mention this gem? I mean c’mon, the two LITERALLY have to let go by disjoining their frozen hands, while slowly dying out in the Atlantic Ocean! All with the sinking of the RMS Titanic and its thousands of passengers in the background. Now that’s some tragedy for ya. We all know the story of the ill-fated Jack and Rose—her being upper-class, him being lower class—and their love prevailing over the devastating circumstances that affect their passage to the land of opportunity. Everyone usually watches this movie for the fictional romance (yes, Jack and Rose were not actual passengers of the Titanic), but the central event of the film is the true sorrowful aspect of it. It’s a 3 ½ hour film, so it’s definitely not the shortest on the list—but it is one of the most famous and acclaimed. ALSO: Leonardo DiCaprio, enough said.
3. A Walk to Remember
One of my all-time favorite movies—this one is definitely a heartbreaker. Another masterpiece by the talented Nicholas Sparks, A Walk to Remember tells the story of high schoolers Landon and Jamie, and their extremely heart-rending romance. Landon, the popular bad boy, almost unrealistically falls for the nice and pure Jamie—even though she warns him not to, due to her advancing leukemia. Watching them embrace their impending circumstance is quite beautiful—and the film perfectly wraps up with an epilogue delivered by Landon, which is bound to make you cry.
4. Me Before You
Told from the perspective of the quirky and fun-loving Lou, we find ourselves wrapped up in a compromising position—Lou being the newly hired caregiver of wealthy quadriplegic, Will, and being the sole person in charge of making him choose not to end his life. This is where we break out the tissue box. The chemistry between these two is undeniable, and awfully comical. The film’s cast is helmed by the ultimate Queen (of Dragons), Emilia Clarke, as well as a few GOT cast member’s thrown in—while her companion is played by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire breakout, Sam Claflin. The absolute heartbreaking moment in this film is the point when you realize that you were rooting for something that wasn’t going to happen—and you have to accept the somber ending. Cue the ugly crying!!!
5. 500 Days of Summer
Ever been in love with someone and they didn’t feel the exact same? If that’s a yes, then get ready to be all in the feels with this indie film. Our main characters are Tom, a hopeless romantic with a fixation on the lovely Summer, who believes love doesn’t exist. We explore the 500 days of their relationship, trying to figure out the reason that Summer decided to breakup Tom—only to come to one general consensus—love forms with the right person. This very clever romantic film was critically acclaimed, and even scored two Golden Globe nominations—one for best actor performance by the adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt. What I love about this film is its undeniable realistic theme (except for a few extreme gestures)—which is by far one of the most dismal.
6. One Day
In this one, we follow best friends Dexter and Emma, and their journey through life on their “one day”—the day the first met and fell in love with one another. Though the characters go through different partners, life challenges, and distance, they always find themselves coming back to one another. What frustrates me most is that it takes so long for the couple to finally realize that they are destined to be together, and always have been. But sometimes, we don’t know what we have—even if it’s been in front of us all along. The overall theme and setting of the film is stunning, while also delivering some tear-jerking moments throughout.
7. The Way We Were
Another personal favorite—due to it being a film I grew up watching with my mom—I highly recommend this heavyhearted one. Much like 500 Days of Summer, it follows the theme of love existing with the right person. What kills me about this film is that the two main characters are so clearly in love with each other, but the circumstances in their lives and conflicting personalities hinder them from being together. Centered on the devastatingly handsome Hubbell and the powerful Katie—we follow their love story through the years. Meeting in college, they are exact opposites—her being an outspoken political protestor and him being a preppy and politically nonchalant writer—they eventually fall in love, and fight the various obstacles in their way, but ultimately to no prevail. This leads us to the final meeting between the two that is known as one of the most heartbreaking scenes of all time, and fills us with lifelong nostalgia for “The Way We Were.” The performances are fantastic, as well as the accompanying song performed by the lead actress, legendary and OG feminist, Barbra Streisand.
8. Brokeback Mountain
Cowboys. Secret love. Lasting love. A mountain. Brokeback Mountain has it all. Transporting us back to 1963, we follow Jack and Ennis up to the mountain, where they take part in a secret affair—and an everlasting love begins. The two men form a strong and eternal bond that even after their job on the mountain is finished, they continue to always be a part of each other’s lives. Over the course of time—both of them become husbands and fathers, while holding onto the events that happened at Brokeback and their star-crossed love. The film’s gentle pace and exquisite performances earned it 8 Academy Award nominations—winning three. This is also one of the best performances given by the late (and extremely handsome), Heath Ledger.
9. The Fault in Our Stars
My inner teenage girl is already tearing up at just the sight of the title of this next one. This book and film really made my 15-year-old self, weep over a relationship and boyfriend that was SO non-existent—so I guess that means that John Green did a good job, right? Hazel Lancaster—played by the spectacular Shailene Woodley—is a teenager who has never had a normal life due to her debilitating cancer. While sitting in a cancer therapy group—she meets the charming Augustus, and the rest is history. The relationship between the two fills us with bliss—even though both are suffering from diseases that are indescribably sad. I mean just the synopsis of this one makes me want to cry—so you know the full film will definitely do the job.
10. Love Story
Known as one of the most romantic films by the American Film Institute, this tragedy follows a couple—Oliver and Jenny—through their marriage and it’s many obstacles. The two are from complete different sides of the track—Oliver being a privileged and wealthy Harvard law student, and Jenny being a working class music major. Married quickly and young, they are thrown into circumstances that are overwhelming and testing—with Jenny’s cancer diagnosis being the ultimate blow. The title of the film says it all, in which the main focus is a love story, no matter how sad it may be. The movie also produced one of the most famous movie lines in history and a life lesson to us all—“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
I hope you enjoyed the list! I highly don’t recommend a marathon due to the heart-wrenching content of all these films, but gather up your girls, break out the wine glasses and tissues, and watch away!