Perfect Films for Every Occasion, Holiday, Mood, Ordeal and Whim
Selections from the book

Heartbreak Films

Movies have attended to the wounds of the heartsick since the medium’s very beginnings, and the paradigm has usually wallowed in the experience, not sought a rescue from it. Which is what you have to do.

Selections from Flickipedia. For more movie recommendations in this category, please consult the book.

scene from the end of the affair
Wuthering Heights (1939) A film unjustly maligned today (and more fully hailed in the “St. Valentine’s Day” section), and one that holds a unique place of honor in our home, where just one bar from Alfred Neuman’s score can bring all-business adults weeping to their knees. The ultimate broken-heart story, tinged with metaphysical urgency and executed, beautifully, once and for all – no other version has come close to capturing its indescribable sense of loss.

Modern Romance (1981) Albert Brooks, writer, director and star, trumps all comers in this definitive portrait of a narcissistic schlemiel in the throes of post-break-up agony. Laser-like in its social surgery, and brutally funny, all at Brooks’s own expense, of course – he embodies every man’s most pathetic, oblivious self.

The End of the Affair (1999) The Graham Greene novel, filmed with all the required intelligence, by Neil Jordan, is all about wartime love (between married woman Julianne Moore and family friend Ralph Fiennes) as a defiance of, and finally a bloody deal made with, a hard-bargaining God. One of the best British films of the ‘90s, and predictably underappreciated.

2046 (2004) This multi-headed monster of a movie, years in the making, remaking, postponing and editing, is director Wong Kar-Wai’s magnum opus, conflating several narratives – some historically based in and around a rented room in 1960s Hong Kong, some imaginary and futuristic – and several women, none of them quite filling the hole in the heart of Tony Leung’s laconic journalist, made miserable first in In the Mood for Love. Form, mood and affect drubs narrative content, and the steamroller of sadness rolls right over you.

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