If you're dealing with a break-up, this watchlist will kickstart those happy hormones... one way or another
What will it be? Romcom, thriller, or true crime?
What do The Notebook and A Walk To Remember, the Rekha and Waheeda Rehman of the romcom genre, have in common? Other than being written by the same author, of course. They both preach the same sermon: love worth having is love worth fighting for. Chances are, you believed in this Nicholas Sparks ideal even though your dating history is reminiscent of a pile-up on NH2. It’s this rose-tinted glass bubble that makes moving on excruciatingly difficult.
After crying enough to provide a small village with an irrigation supply, I came up with a cathartic technique to get through my last relationship disaster. Creating a break-up watchlist of movies, shows and true crime documentaries. They provided me with an escape portal without me having to leave my bed. I’d carved out space, away from well-meaning friends and concerned parents, to zone out and process how I was feeling. I came out of this dark shell with a fresh perspective and motivation to let go of the wreckage. At some point, these streaming platforms had turned into budget online counsellors when I just didn’t feel like talking. (Here are some online therapy options that might work for you)
While this isn’t a fix for everybody, we can promise this breakup watchlist will make you laugh, ugly cry (in a good way), vicariously satisfy your urge to seek revenge and fulfil your guilty pleasures.
A breakup watchlist to help you power through dark days
Another Round (2020)
Using alcohol to drown your sorrows is not uncommon, but you probably haven’t taken it as far as Mads Mikkelsen and his friends in Another Round. This Danish Academy Award-nominated movie features four middle-aged men who put psychiatrist Finn Skårderud’s theory — that humans are born with a blood alcohol level that is too low and that consuming alcohol actually helps people reach their full potential — to the test.
At first, the more they drink, the more confident and content they feel. But as the movie progresses, their experiment starts to unravel. Even though it is frustrating to watch these men drink to see how far they can get without having to face the consequences, the downfall is heartbreaking. And yet, they keep going. The lesson I learnt here is ‘everything in moderation’, even heady romance. If you’ve just come out of a tough breakup, take some time off to focus on yourself instead of diving head-first into the next one.
Modern Love: Mumbai (2022)
For all those of you who haven’t stumbled upon this yet, Modern Love is originally a column run by the New York Times that has been adapted by Amazon Prime Video. The Indian rendition is based on stories from that column. Set in the “city of dreams”, this anthology is made up of six episodes, with each one spinning a tale of romance and hope.
From Manzu, in the episode Baai, coming out as gay to his conservative Muslim family (Read the story of a man who came out as gay in the aftermath of his divorce) to Lali in Raat Rani dealing with being abandoned by her husband, these six episodes are more than your run-of-the-mill Bollywood romcom. Each episode in this breakup watchlist has very different variables, yet they are all linked with the same thread. They are all a fight for love set in a society that makes it challenging for them live happily ever after.
If you find as much comfort in true crime as I find in my mother’s dahi chawal, Midsommar is for you. The movie is about an idyllic summer vacation gone very, very wrong. A couple on the verge of a breakup and their friends head to a picturesque Swedish village to partake in the Midsummer Festival that is held there. The protagonist, Dani, is grieving the loss of her family and this trip turns out to be the nightmarish reality check the universe was trying to send her.
During the festivities, the group soon realises that they are in the midst of a pagan cult and need to get out of there. Through the course of the movie, Dani realises that she has been making excuses for her boyfriend’s horrible behaviour. He is disconnected, forgets her birthday, and is inattentive to her fragile emotional state (Is your partner emotionally unavailable?). Through the horror and the gory imagery of the movie, we see something fundamental shake loose in Dani.
This movie on our breakup watchlist is for all the times you were so angry at the person who broke your heart that you wanted revenge. All the gruesome scenes of the movie are weirdly cathartic and definitely worth a watch.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Are you going through old text messages and photos trying to pinpoint the exact moment it all came crashing down like a hailstorm in May? What you probably need is a cry for the ages. A sobbing session that is so cathartic that once you’re done, you feel lighter in your bones. And to catalyse this, we have Brokeback Mountain. A timeless love story that is guaranteed to leave you lying in a pool of your own tears.
It’s the story of two cowboys who find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another on a booze-filled evening in 1963. While hiding from the bracing winds of Wyoming, a spontaneous moment of intimacy triggers love. After their summer gig of tending sheep is over, they go their separate ways and do what society expects of them — only to reconnect four years later with the same smouldering red-hot passion that could outshine a bonfire on a cold winter’s night. They fan these flames with occasional “fishing trips”. However, their respective marriages start unravelling as it becomes harder and harder for them to deny their true selves.
There are no forced moments or stereotypes. We see the two characters grapple with their sexuality at a time in history when being a murderer would be more accepted than being gay. We see them work on their relationships with their wives and kids. It’s the kind of movie that makes you wonder: Will you regret the things you didn’t say more than the things you did? It’s better to find the answer to this question before it’s too late. Like it was for Jack and Ennis.
The Worst Person In The World (2021)
This Norwegian pick should be on your breakup watchlist if you like escaping into movies that hold up a mirror to your reality. It’s a potent blend of a romance and coming-of-age, as our protagonist, Julie, is on the verge of turning 30, and like most people of that age, terrified of making irreversible life decisions.
Julie starts out completely unsure of which direction her life is headed in. She is in medical school but then tells her mother she wants to pursue psychology, only to eventually take up photography. Her indecisiveness extends to her convoluted love life as well. She starts a whirlwind romance with a stunning young man, before leaving him at a party for someone else. As her 20s progress, she is working in a bookstore. Her photography is left forgotten. She finally meets a guy, Eivind, and it feels like she’s found some footing.
The movie is sweet, romantic, and at the same time, it is all too real. We’ve all been where Julie is, haven’t we? Lost despite having Google Maps, sabotaging our own efforts to make something of our lives. But is being indecisive and overly cautious in your 20s the worst thing in the world?
Palm Springs (2020)
The days following a break-up are worse than the break-up itself. You’re still oscillating between denial and anger, according to the first six stages of the grief timeline that come before acceptance. If you’ve called your ex and asked them to take you back or started defending their bad behaviour, you might’ve reached the third stage: bargaining. But no one said grief is a linear process. All your days mash together like you’re stuck in a time loop. And if that is true, who better to be stuck with than Andy Samberg?
Palm Springs on our breakup watchlist is a rom-com with a lesson. It’s about two people, Nyles and Sara, stuck in an actual time loop, forced to relive the same day. Don’t be fooled though. Palm Springs is on this list not only as a hilarious movie that’s the post-breakup distraction you need, but also because, in its own twisted way, it shows us that you can’t run from yourself, or from love. Whether you choose Nyles’ approach of believing existence is meaningless so why not just have fun? Or Sara’s cynical approach that is haunted by her past mistakes (she wakes up every day having just slept with her sister’s fiancé), you have to live out every seemingly endless day without running for cover every time things get a little challenging.
Birds of Prey (2020)
Are you just coming out of a long-term relationship? Does the dating world feel like you’re aboard the Enterprise exploring a whole new galaxy? We have a distraction you didn’t know you needed, in the form of Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Whether you watch because of Harley Quinn’s oddly charming character or because you’re a diehard fan of Gotham and Batman, you will feel pumped at the end. It’s like a pep talk from your best friend but in movie form.
In the movie, Harley Quinn is trying to find out who she is without Joker. After she blows up a factory to announce that they’ve broken up, Harley Quinn is targeted by everyone she has wronged. She puts together a ragtag team of women who help her see that she is capable of so much more than she ever thought possible. On the surface, this movie is yet another fictional story about good v/s evil (the lines are a little blurred but who’s nitpicking?). But when you look a little deeper, you’ll see that it’s about a woman finding confidence and power outside a relationship. It’s a guilty-pleasure watch and who doesn’t love those?
So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to sob, fixate and stalk your ex’s social media accounts, or use this watchlist to cathart and move on? There is only one right choice here.