Rom-coms are usually sweet—sometimes too sweet that you might feel you need to see an affordable dentist afterward. They’re feel-good entertainment, leaving the audience wanting to fall in love as well.
On the other hand, some rom-coms are simply heart-warming. At times, they leave you contemplating about how you handle your feelings. The rom-coms that deal with a break-up but end on a good note at least—with a glimmer of hope, not for the couple but for the individual characters.
Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
Celeste and Jesse—played by Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg, respectively—are best-friends-slash-couple dealing with a divorce without letting go of the inside jokes. The two are still as close as they were, creeping out their friends, and somehow hindering the search for new relationships. As the movie progresses, they grow out of each other to build lives independent of each other.
Despite everything they’ve been through, Celeste and Jesse still keep the affection that they feel for each other but to a different degree. Stephanie Zacharek’s review of the movie encapsulates this: “a way of looking at marriage that resists portraying a ‘failed’ marriage as a failure.” Sometimes, people are perfect for each other—but just as friends.
La La Land (2016)
This Oscar-winning movie about climbing the ladder of Hollywood stardom captures the bittersweet feeling of separation through one last look. Played by Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) and Emma Stone (Mia), the characters struggle to steal the spotlight and shine as a pianist and an actress. As they go through auditions and jazz bars, the two fall in love but grow apart as they come closer to their dreams.
Maybe the movie was not about their romance all along. The last scene is the movie’s replacement for an “‘I choose me’ monologue.” Their journey has always been about their personal dreams.
Someone Great (2019)
Starring Gina Rodriguez (Jenny Young), Brittany Snow (Blair Helms), and DeWanda Wise (Erin Kennedy), “Someone Great” is a Netflix Original that explores heartbreak, acceptance, and female friendship. As Jenny got the job of her dreams and had to move away, her long-term relationship had to end. In search of a coping mechanism, she turns to her two best friends, Blair and Erin.
While the story’s basis is a break-up, the movie actually revolves around friendship and how bonds grow through the years. There are jobs, moving out, broken plans, and a lot more. This take on getting over a heartbreak and spending one last big night with best friends could make the audience realize that acceptance might be more important than closure.
In these movies, people grow apart and change. They show that there are different ways to love a person, much as Celeste and Jesse do. They show that it’s OK to be selfish and choose your own journey like Sebastian and Mia did. They show that you can—take this—live without the other person, like what Jenny came to realize. Whether you’re watching these after a break-up or not, these movies could make you reflect on how people view romantic relationships.