The Best Movies to Watch After a Breakup (& the Worst)

Romance movies are often box office hits. We love to watch attractive people fall in love and realize happy endings—except when we recently witnessed our own happiness crumble. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end of a breakup, you should take time after a relationship ends for personal TLC. You'll feel compelled to stare at other men, reconnect with yourself, and, of course, watch lots of movies. These are all worthy endeavors. Often in relationships we experience tunnel vision, and movies happen to have a comforting way of illuminating things we couldn’t see happening in front of us. Freshly eligible singletons flock to Netflix in search of answers—or Ashton Kutcher’s disrobed hiney—to claim the catharsis they crave.

It’s human nature or maybe woman nature (I can’t speak for the gentlemen) to seek meaning in movies. But while you’re laying in bed alone at night, it's crucial to remember that not all romance films are created equal. To defend and mend your sensitive single soul, equip yourself with our own breakup movie “Must and Bust” lists.


1. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Wondering what to watch when you're getting over an ex? Answer: A movie about someone getting over an ex. FSM is magically both relatable and ludicrous, in a way that has you forget for a few moments about your current status and laugh all the way to your core.  “You might find yourself crying, but they’ll be tears of joy!” affirms HC Contributing Writer and Syracuse student Kaitlyn Monteiro. A good movie teaches without your awareness; and alongside outrageous hilarity, FSM weaves a tale of reaching your potential and moving on after a devastating breakup.

2. Closer

If you've ever been played or hurt badly by an ex-flame, the mind games in this flick will continue to confuse you. Don’t get caught up with them, because the overarching theme provides an iota of relief: It wasn't your fault! People release all kinds of agendas and personal flaws on each other that have more to do with what they’re going through personally than who they're with. “I realized that someone can really love you, not treat you right, and it isn’t a reflection of you or their love for you. It’s a reflection of them, not wanting to get hurt,” says Kara*, a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Closer’s ensemble has blazing sexual chemistry, tart exchanges, and character defects the size of landfills. Watch and identify with Natalie Portman's Alice. When the film ends you'll feel like you always knew better—even if you didn't. 

3. In Good Company

Young, naive Carter Duryea (played by Topher Grace) becomes the boss of the older Dan Foreman (Dennis Quaid) at work and nails him two-fold when he begins dating Foreman's daughter (the always-a-temptress Scarlett Johansson). Embrace the laughs and grant the far-fetched plot some leniency, because IGC yields a prudent message. "Watching it after a tough breakup it left me feeling optimistic in being independent and on my own," recalls HC Special Events Intern Katie DiCoccio, "It reminded me that not every relationship has a fairy tale ending and that regardless of what happens, we always have our family and close friends to fall back on!"

4. 500 Days of Summer

This gem features resident-cutie Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom, an idiosyncratic greeting card author and the elusive man who loves, well, love. Anyone who thought their ex was the perfect match will be comforted by Tom's realization that "just because [she] loves the same bizarre crap as you doesn't mean she's your soul mate."  Tom's flaky beau Summer (Zooey Deschanel) has a cynical side, and their ups and downs may hit close to home. Even so, the ride is worthwhile: "It gives great perspective on relationships," muses HC UC-Irvine Campus Correspondent Resham Parikh. “Watching 500 DOS is the best plan of action—the realistic and refreshing views on relationships are consoling,” includes Krista Evans, HC Simmons Campus Correspondent.

5. Legally Blonde

I'd be foolish to assume 75 percent of our generation's collegiettes™ haven't watched empathically as Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) screamed "Liar!" and chucked a box of chocolates at the movie playing on her TV. In fact, this very list exists so that exact scenario won't recur. But if you've recently been canned, revisiting LB's syllogism for "getting dumped-->finding yourself" is an uplifting essential.  “It’s so empowering,” agrees Krista, “Legally Blonde is definitely one to watch.”