8. Melinda and Melinda (2004)
Both a comedy and a tragedy, Woody Allen’s two favorite modes of filmmaking and of perceiving the world are combined together in “Melinda and Melinda”, telling a story of a passionate but unstable woman who tries to start over.
Two chief plotlines structure the film, starting off with Melinda’s (Radha Mitchell) unexpected invasion of a dinner party. She is a tragic heroine who is processing heartbreak, divorce, murder and a loss of custody, while desperately trying to escape the pain in a haze of alcohol and .
A temporary solution lies in her new boyfriend, a sensitive pianist named Ellis (Zak Orth). However, once again investing too much hope in her relationship, Melinda ends up completely devastated when she finds about the affair between Ellis and her best friend, Laurel (Chloë Sevigny).
Crashing a dinner party, on the other hand, can turn out quite differently for the other, not-so-tragic Melinda. Confused and overdosed, she gets help from her neighbors, a married couple growing apart from each other.
The husband, Hobie (Will Ferrell), falls madly in love with her; after easily stepping out of his non-functioning marriage, he is ready to declare his fondness toward her, yet Melinda has fallen for another guy. After following the general rules of comedy, Melinda and Hobie finally find their way to each other and the story concludes with a happy ending.
As they say, there are two sides to every story, and this film quite literally exhibits how easily can things change when taken from a different perspective.
7. Mon Roi (2015)
From 2015’s official selection for the Cannes Film Festival, “Mon Roi” portrays the stormy relationship of Tony (Emmanuelle Bercot) and Georgio (Vincent Cassel) from their first encounter, through becoming parents to the painful consequences of their definite separation.
After a serious skiing injury, Tony is admitted to a rehabilitation center where she is supposed to recover, not only from the recent physical trauma but also from the years of emotional turmoil she has been experiencing with Georgio. Through flashbacks, the film slides across the events Tony has been undergoing since meeting the “ideal man”.
Uncanny right from the start, Georgio is successful, sexy, mysterious, and fun to be with, thus sweeping Tony off her feet right away. However, his attitude suddenly changes toward his newly pregnant wife, consequently revealing his money as well as drug problems. The fresh and positive environment surrounding Tony at the center forces her to get back on her feet after suffering through constant fights and disappointments marking her for a lifetime.
This recent drama of French cinema shows that relationships and marriages are never easy, no matter the age and experience behind the characters, therefore flashing an uncomfortable red light against naiveté and blind love.
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Deleting a person from your memory who has broken your heart seems like the ultimate wish and remedy. Michel Gondry’s surreal film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” offers an insight into every important step in the relationship, not by retaining it, but by deleting it.
Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is experiencing real difficulties in getting over his recent breakup with Clementine (Kate Winslet). After finding out that the reason she doesn’t recognize him anymore is because she erased him from her memory, he decides to undergo the same procedure offered by the medical firm Lacuna, Inc. Joel is ready to be hooked to the machines in order to forget her once and for all. Nevertheless, the evening presents certain difficulties.
It is only when he starts to lose the memories that he realizes that he wants to hold on to them no matter how good or bad they are, as they are part of him now. Thus, he tries to rescue Clementine by rushing through his consciousness and taking her to places rooted in childhood, where she cannot be deleted.
Despite the complications, Clementine is ineviably forever gone from Joel’s mind; however, due to the secondary plot concerning the workers’ own relationship problems, the recorded ‘memories’ are sent out. Mary (Kirsten Dunst), who is blindly in love with her boss (Tom Wilkinson), learns that this is not the first time she’s been in love with him. Realizing that she has undergone the procedure as well, she decides to grant the same opportunity of revelation to all the patients.
Joel and Clementine, despite knowing they had a miserable past, are still ready to give it a go. Therefore, the film seems to suggest that meeting the person you fall in love with is inevitable, whether you erase the memories or not, because the feelings and the attraction remain. Rather than choosing the easy path and forget, a breakup rather needs to be processed and the memories stored so the learning and healing can begin.
5. Her (2013)
A visually stunning film, “Her”, written and directed by Spike Jonze, thoroughly delves into the fated subject of human loneliness. The ultimate fear gets confronted: having already experienced marriage and having gone through all the good and bad parts, is anyone ever going to be able to love someone again?
Theodore’s (Joaquin Phoenix) near-future Los Angeles is a world is where people no longer communicate nor express their emotions; he actually works as a letter writer to express emotions instead of the people supposed to have lived the words.
With his environment being so busy and detached, topped off with emotional difficulty in signing his divorce papers, drives him to form a special relationship with his newly purchased operating system, Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Through their talks, Theodore finally understands the problems with his marriage and the issues always coming up in his relationships, which then teaches him to regard the feelings of others. Samantha opens his eyes about life’s little joys, transforming Theodore to the happy and satisfied man he once used to be and at last, he is prepared to accept his divorce and move on.
The film should not be understood as an exploration of whether it is possible to fall in love with an operating system, but rather as a therapeutic lesson to acknowledge that in order to exist in a relationship, overcoming one’s ego is inevitable.
4. For Some Inexplicable Reason (2014)
Although “For Some Inexplicable Reason”, a Hungarian low-budget amateur movie, has achieved great success in its home country, it remains still unknown for a wider, international public. Themes about twentysomethings such as the struggle to find a job, being stuck in the past, and the never-ceasing pain of a breakup will make you laugh as well as instantly recognize yourself in the characters.
The story presents Áron, a film school graduate in his late 20s facing the usual struggles of this generation: his parents are spoiling him, and he is passive and jobless while the people around him seem to be successful in living the banal adult everyday life. What’s more, he reaches a low point when his ex-girlfriend, Eszter, leaves him and moves out of their shared apartment.
The whole plot-driving motif is Áron’s attempts to function with a broken heart and move on, while also being forced to sort out his whole life and future in general. He unreasonably pursues another girl, almost experiences a one-night stand, and then spontaneously moves to Lisbon.
However, not even the change of scenery or meeting a gorgeous Portuguese girl can get rid of the lasting shadow of his ex-girlfriend. Once he gets back, the routine starts over: trying to find a job, start his book, and finally forget Eszter.
The movie successfully shows that the problems, anxieties, and depression Áron is facing stem not only from his recent breakup, but are eventually generational problems. A solution appears to require a change of attitude rather than a change of scenery.
3. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
This is your story of boy meets girl, a lonely individual falling for “the one” who shares his interests and twists his life upside down. “(500) Days of Summer” undoubtedly sounds like a classic romantic comedy. However, as the narrator claims in the very beginning, this is not a love story.
In fact, it is a story of an individual who has to realize that idealization does not lead to true happiness and that expectations do not always match reality. All this is wrapped up in the recent youth culture that’s obsessed with nostalgia, joined with the plot full of allusions to music, films and art.
Untraditionally, the film offers a male perspective, instead of presenting the audience with a woman looking for love and a man who needs to settle down. It shows Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a desperate romantic who meets up with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a woman who doesn’t even believing in love’s existence at first.
The plot literally takes the audience through the different seasons of their relationship; however, it is clear from the beginning that the couple is doomed since the characters have different perceptions on love.
Tom’s little sister Rachel (Chloë Grace Moretz) essentially articulates the real cause of his misery: “Just because she likes the same bizarro crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.” Acknowledging that a relationship does not always work out is what Tom needs to learn, as well as abandoning the ideas about eternal love and the promise of happiness prescribed by Hollywood romantic comedies and hipster culture.
2. La Vie d’Adèle (2013)
“La Vie d’Adèle” caused many heated debates in recent years due to an explicit portrayal of lesbian sex, which resulted in critics and audiences overlooking the film’s excellent examination of a passionate and strong relationship, no matter the gender.
After all, the film is called the life of Adèle, quite literally so. The plot follows Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) from her high school years into her early 20s. Long takes of Adèle’s everyday banal activities such as sleeping, eating, taking classes at school, and then teaching children establishes an instant identity.
Through this, her infatuation with Emma (Léa Seydoux), an ambitious young artist, delves into the overwhelming experience of first love more intensely, as well as into the consequent unbearable heartbreak. She unfortunately needs to learn that being fulfilled only because of your significant other will not lead to true happiness, especially if the other person’s priority is herself and her work.
In the end, Adèle has no other choice than to continue, grow up and face the clear fact that Emma has moved on, has her own family, and does not love her anymore. The tenderness and fondness for each other will always remain; however, Adèle needs to find the fulfillment elsewhere than in a master-slave relationship.
1. Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen’s ultimate classic “Annie Hall” has been considered a great influence on romantic comedies since the 1970s, even though the film turns upside-down all the conventional formulas of this genre.
The film starts off with Alvy Singer, played by Woody Allen himself, stating upfront that he and Annie (Diane Keaton) broke up. Therefore, the plot is generally determined by the tragic end hanging in the air, mirroring the difficult task of coming to terms with a closure of a great love.
The movie takes us back and forth through the complex relationship between the two obviously dissimilar characters, starting off as a great and unique couple having meaningful conversations, sharing interests and life stories. However, they eventually lose the spark that glues them together so tightly and realize the destructive force of their liaison is culminating in frustration, fights and an eventual separation.
The film explores the ultimate questions of what makes a relationship work, why love and attraction fade away, and how is it rationally possible to accept an end of a seemingly eternal connection.
In this respect, this film is the ultimate remedy for a broken heart, as Alvy realizes for some reason or another that his relationship with Annie finally ended, but it does not mean it’s the end of the world. As he says toward the end of the film, we will always be foolish enough to give love another try, in spite of knowing the excruciating consequences.
Author Bio: Lucy is a Hungarian student of English and American studies in Prague. A great traveler and film enthusiast, se is always seeking authenticity and alternative on screen. In general, she’s a lover of indie cinema with a quirky sensibility.