Hollywood is always churning out romantic movies, whether they be comedies or tragedies and most of them usually center around two important periods in a relationship: either the beginning or the end. Audiences love the “start of relationship” movies because they’re all about falling in love and that excited feeling everyone gets at the beginning of a new courtship.
Then “break-up” movies give audiences comfort during a time of loss that can be sobering, cathartic, and hopeful. Audiences love watching these movies because they reflect what’s going on in own their lives, whether they’re looking forward with excitement or looking back with heartbreak and nostalgia.
10 Beginning: Before Sunrise
Directed by Richard Linklater and starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise explores the chance meeting of two strangers who spend an evening together wandering around Vienna and exploring the connection between them.
Before Sunrise perfectly encapsulates the feeling of finding an amazing connection with someone. The connection that audiences long for and sometimes struggle to find, and this film points out it can be with anyone, anywhere at any time. While this film ends with them parting ways at the evening’s close, they eventually reunited for a sequel, Before Sunset, released nine years later and a third film, Before Midnight nine years after that.
9 End: 500 Days Of Summer
500 Days Of Summer works as both a new relationship movie and a break-up movie because part of the film’s charm is how it depicts in spectacular fashion, through an imaginative dance number, how it feels to be in love, and it perfectly captures that feeling of being on top of the world because of it.
However, most of the movie is told looking back on the failed relationship between Summer and Tom. Tom is upset over their breakup but doesn’t realize that he had projected his fantasies upon Summer and that he needs to come to grips with the fact that he actually fell in love with the idea of her, not the person. Ultimately, their relationship is something Tom can learn from as he goes forth with his romantic life.
8 Beginning: The Notebook
Audiences usually go into relationships with positivity and the hope that it will last forever. The Notebook has become standard viewing for couples in life because of the fact that it’s so aspirational. Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks and starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, The Notebook tells the story of a couple, Noah and Allie, who fall in love, but their different backgrounds ultimately lead to them breaking up. However, upon returning from war, Noah attempts to get Allie back even though she’s planning on marrying someone else.
The movie is told in flashback from the perspective of elderly Noah telling dementia-afflicted Allie the story of their relationship. Audiences love seeing movie couples’ love survive through thick and thin, continuing to love each other through illness and ultimately seeing them grow old together.
7 End: High Fidelity
John Cusack co-wrote and stars in High Fidelity, based on the Nick Hornby novel of the same name. The film concerns Rob, a music-obsessed record store owner, who recounts to the audience his top five breakups while also trying to win back the heart of the one that got away.
Funny, well written, with a great performance by John Cusack as well as a hilarious early performance by Jack Black, High Fidelity is a relatable tale of love and heartbreak with an amazing soundtrack to go with it.
6 Beginning: Happiest Season
Of course, one of the biggest things about having a new romance is meeting your partner’s parents. No matter what sexual orientation you have, this is usually an important and often nerve-wracking experience for anyone. However, Happiest Season does this with a twist to add extra anxiety. Harper (Mackenzie Davis) is bringing her girlfriend, Abby (Kristen Stewart), home to her parent’s house for Christmas but she hasn’t come out to them yet.
Happiest Season was released on Hulu to great reviews in 2020 and it has the distinction of being one of the few mainstream gay romantic comedies. Happiest Season proves that the beginning of a relationship can have many stressors no matter who your partner is.
5 End: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
The pain brought on by a break-up can be so hard to bear that some jilted lovers wish the person who broke their heart never existed. That’s the premise of director Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman. This imaginative film concerns Joel (Jim Carrey), a man who undergoes a procedure to rid his memory of the relationship with his recent ex, Clementine (Kate Winslet).
During the process, Joel tries to stop the procedure from taking effect but it ultimately erases his memories of her. Clementine has also erased her memories of him, however, true connections can never be erased because the two end up meeting again, initially not knowing they were already in a relationship, and they begin anew.
4 Beginning: Love Actually
Considered the ultimate romantic comedy, Love Actually features nine interconnected love stories that take place during Christmas and starring an ensemble cast that includes Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney and so many more. Reviews were mixed upon release but audiences loved it and the film has become a Christmas viewing staple every year.
Love Actually has been called “sugary sweet” and “overly sentimental,” but audiences see it as an epic love story told from many different experiences and perspectives. When a relationship is new and fresh, Love Actually is great viewing to celebrate that love.
3 End: How Stella Got Her Groove Back
Following a breakup, many people look, not just for another relationship, but something entirely new and different. Based on the book by Terry McMillan, the film tells the story of 40-year-old Stella (Angela Bassett), a recent divorcee and workaholic, who travels to Jamaica and begins a relationship with a man, Winston (Taye Diggs) who is half her age.
A breakup often causes people to take stock of life, find out what’s really important, and try new experiences that sometimes include taking risks. This is all featured in How Stella Got Her Groove Back and it has been an audience favorite since its release in 1996.
2 Beginning: When Harry Met Sally
When Hary Met Sally is the quintessential romantic comedy for which seemingly all subsequent romantic comedies have been judged. Starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, the film charts the relationship between two strangers who go from dislike to best friends to lovers, with audiences rooting for them the whole way.
Despite early drafts of the script featuring a downbeat and more realistic ending, When Harry Met Sally has a happy ending that makes it the perfect movie to watch when newly in love. It’s about that feeling you get when you realize who it is you want as a partner and, while the movie presents a type of idealized love seemingly only found in movies, it’s something audiences can still strive for.
1 End: Annie Hall
Relationships are great but they can also be tumultuous and, after a breakup, couples are often asking themselves what went wrong. Annie Hall explores this all, the highs, the lows, and, despite everything, we keep doing it over and over again.
Annie Hall chronicles the doomed romantic relationship of Alvy and Annie, told through Alvy’s memories as he tries to figure out what went wrong. However, he discovers that their relationship’s demise was no one’s fault, and that love just fades. In the end, Alvy surmises that despite the fact that relationships can be heartbreaking, we keep going through them because we need the love they produce. Ultimately, this encourages audiences to try and look past their break-ups and keep trying to find love.
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