9 best movies to watch after a breakup

Jonah Hill and Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall
(Image credit: Alamy)

Whatever particular brand of angst soothes your heartbroken soul tends to shape which breakup movies you’re drawn to. Maybe you want an upbeat rom-com. Perhaps you want a film that tackles loss or heartbreak. Or you could also choose a movie that features jaded characters finding love again. There’s no formula to dictate how to mend a broken heart, but there are certainly a ton of movies that can help you work through your sadness or distract you for a few hours. 

No matter which category you fall under, here are some of the best movies to watch after a breakup that will hopefully help with those post-breakup blues

Eat Pray Love

Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love

(Image credit: Alamy)

If soul searching is more your post-breakup vibe than hooking up, Eat Pray Love might be the way to go. Hey, falling in love with yourself and your life is arguably more important than loving (or loving on) someone else. But all methods of self-care are welcome. 

Ryan Murphy directed and adapted the 2010 movie alongside Jennifer Salt from Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir by the same name. A newly-divorced Liz (Julia Roberts) goes on a self-discovery trip to Italy, India, and Bali — where she respectively finds the pleasures of food, prayer, and love. Is the title making more sense? 

The film also features actors like Javier Bardem (Felipe), Viola Davis (Delia Shiraz), James Franco (David Piccolo), and Richard Jenkins (Richard). 

Watch on Netflix

La La Land

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Young epic loves may not always last forever, but that doesn’t make them any less integral in defining who we are. You can love someone more than anything, but life and career paths can tear you apart, leading a couple in different directions. That’s what happens during the 2016 movie La La Land. Maybe Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) will make it work and maybe they won’t, but we can all relate to that one relationship where it feels like the universe is against you.

The movie musical is filled to the brim with homages to the ‘40s and ‘50s, making audiences feel like the modern-day musical is actually a throwback film. Between the musical numbers, cinematography, and the old Hollywood feel, you’ll be too distracted by Mia and Sebastian’s larger-than-life love story to think about your own. Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the movie that took home six Oscars. 

Watch on Netflix

John Tucker Must Die

Brittany Snow watches as Arielle Kabbel and Jesse Metcalfe kiss in John Tucker Must Die

(Image credit: Alamy)

There’s a reason “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” is one of the original adages we still parrot today. Sometimes, we just need a good revenge movie. John Tucker Must Die gave that to us in 2006. Jesse Metcalfe plays John Tucker: serial cheater extraordinaire to his three-timed girlfriends Carrie (Arielle Kabbel), Heather (Ashanti), and Beth (Sophia Bush).

Rather than turning on each other, the women devise a punishment that matches the crime: breaking John’s heart with the help of Kate (Brittany Snow). Betty Thomas directed the movie while Jeff Lowell penned the script. The film is equal parts girl power and petty revenge, making it a solid breakup movie (especially if there was cheating involved). 

Watch on Prime Video

Legally Blonde

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods (dressed in all pink) holding her dog Bruiser in Legally Blonde

(Image credit: Tracy Bennett / MGM / PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo)

What, like breakups are hard? If Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) taught us anything, it’s that all you need is a can-do attitude and mounds of pink to accomplish anything you set your mind to. Whether it’s getting into Harvard Law with absolutely no relevant credentials or finding love again after your boyfriend brutally dumps you in a fancy restaurant, there’s an Elle Woods pep talk for your woes. And hey, we’re all better off without the Warners (Matthew Davis) of the world anyway. 

Legally Blonde is the movie to watch when you need motivation to defy all of the put-downs that your ex threw your way. Did they tell you that you couldn’t accomplish something? Did they trash your dreams? The Robert Luketic-directed classic will help you realize that you’re better off and give you the inspiration to go do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Amanda Brown, Karen McCullah, and Kirsten Smith are responsible for writing this movie that hasn’t lost its appeal since 2001.  

Watch on Prime Video

How to Be Single

Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson in How to Be Single

(Image credit: Alamy)

The movie How To Be Single is a pretty self-explanatory inclusion on a breakup movie binge list. The raunchy 2016 film chronicles a newly single Alice (Dakota Johnson) while Rebel Wilson's Robin teaches her the joys of being a single woman in New York City. 

This is a particularly good choice for anyone wanting to get back out there in a free-lovin' kind of way. If the prospect of dating apps and bar nights both exhilarates and terrifies you, How to Be Single is a must-watch. And who doesn't love some Rebel Wilson chaos? 

Leslie Mann (Meg), Alsion Brie (Lucy), Damon Wayans Jr. (David), and Anders Holm (Tom) are also along for this cab ride to singledom. Christian Ditter directed the movie written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, and Dana Fox. 

Watch on Hulu

The Last Five Years

Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick in The Last Five Years

(Image credit: Alamy)

There’s nothing quite like a breakup musical — especially when it’s headlined by Jeremy Jordan and Anna Kendrick. Of course, writer and director Richard LaGravenese adapted the movie musical from Jason Robert Brown’s musical by the same name. 

The beauty of The Last Five Years comes from the structure of the storytelling. A heartbroken Cathy tells her love story with Jamie from the end while Jamie starts at the beginning. So, even though we know their story doesn’t have a happy ending from the opening number, we watch the parallel highs and the lows all at once, making it difficult not to root for them on some level. 

The Last Five Years is an emotion-jerker, rapidly making fans shift from love and hate as Jamie toggles between infectious charm and callous cruelty with each contradicting scene. In some ways, it really captures the boiling love-hate emotions that follow a breakup when the good memories blend together with the lows. The moving score and vocals are equally capable of causing elation and devastation all at once. 

Watch on Pluto

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Best Peacock movies: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

(Image credit: Universal)

If you can’t jet off to a tropical vacation to mend your heartbreak, at least you can live vicariously through Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) as he sips coconut cocktails next to palm trees and tries to forget Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). Segal himself wrote the 2008 heartbreak classic, while Nicholas Stoller directed the movie. 

Unfortunately for Peter, he has to endure running into his ex and her new boyfriend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) at the resort while he tries to move on with Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis). For anyone romanticizing past relationships that just weren’t that great, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a must-watch to stop falling into bad patterns. This movie also brought us Paul Rudd as a cliché, stoned-out surfer instructor, and for that, we’ll always be thankful. 

Watch on Netflix

P.S. I Love You

Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler in P.S. I Love You

(Image credit: Alamy)

For anyone looking for a good long cry during a breakup, P.S. I Love You is the movie to curl up in a ball and sob along with during the wallowing process. Richard LaGravenese and Steven Rogers adapted the 2004 movie from Cecelia Ahern’s book by the same name. Hilary Swank plays a grief-stricken new young widow named Holly Kennedy, while Gerard Butler plays her late husband Gerry.

Before his death, Gerry planned a quite literal trip down memory lane for Holly as he posthumously encourages her to live her life and work through her grief through a series of letters delivered by loved ones during a trip to Ireland. And as melancholic and grief-heavy as the movie is, it still manages to be uplifting and encourage Holly (and audiences) to never stop seeking love. 

Rent/buy on Amazon or Apple TV


(L-R) Emma Roberts with her arms folded next to Luke Bracey

(Image credit: Netflix)

Not every breakup movie needs to be an award-worthy masterpiece. Sometimes, you just need a silly film to lose yourself in. Emma Roberts’ Holidate scratches that itch. If you’re tired of your family harping on you being single or asking about a breakup, the Holidate offers the perfect solution: Fake it ‘till you make it. 

Roberts’ character Sloane wants nothing to do with love after a bad breakup and she’s desperate to avoid invasive family questions and pity during the holidays. So, she sets off to find a fake holiday boyfriend. Luke Bracey’s Jackson checks all of the boxes and they enter a year-long con to be each other’s holiday plus ones. Audiences going through a bad breakup can probably relate to Sloane’s determination to stay single and jaded throughout the film directed by John Whitesell and written by Tiffany Paulsen. 

Watch on Netflix 

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Xandra Harbet

Xandra is an entertainment journalist with clips in outlets like Salon, Insider, The Daily Dot, and Regal. In her 6+ years of writing, she's covered red carpets, premieres, and events like New York Comic Con. Xandra has conducted around 200 interviews with celebrities like Henry Cavill, Sylvester Stallone, and Adam Driver. She received her B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Randolph College, where she chilled with the campus ghosts and read Edgar Allan Poe at 3 am.