25 Movies Just Perfect for Crying Through Your Divorce

Something that not enough people talk about is the fact that going through immense transitions in your life involves a large amount of crying. And hey, I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. But I know ME — and I like crying to movies. I have an entire genre of films on my Letterboxd account called “sad girl rewatches.” So while I have never been a divorcee, I felt confident that this was my moment to show up with concrete and practical support.

A good crying movie should have the following:

  • Tonality: Some movies can be weepers, but what you’re really looking for are feelings that are bittersweet, wistful, or dramedies. This is key for maintaining your exact level of sad. You don’t want to be yanked out of your emotional state too quickly and cause whiplash, but you also don’t want mistakingly fall deeper into a depression. (It happens.)
  • Aesthetic Vibe: They should be pretty to look at. That can mean a lot of things to different people, but we’re looking for movies that are thoughtfully presented. When you’re eyes are red-rimmed and puffy, you deserve a visual reward for opening them.
  • Themes: The movie does not explicitly have to be on the topic you are sad about! That is a rookie move! Instead think more broadly about what’s going on in your life right now and what will bring you comfort from there. In this instance, not all of the following films are going to be about a divorce, but they I stayed within broader feelings about starting over, rebuilding life, friendship, independence, romance after heartbreak, all those good things.

💍 means that at least one character is either divorced, going through a divorce, or will divorce by the film’s end.

A 💜 means that at least one character is LGBT.

So there you have it! If you’re going through a divorce, welcome you are in the right place! But even if you’re not going through a divorce right now, here are 25 very pretty movies to look back at you while you blow snot bubbles into your t-shirt (no one is looking, it’s fine).

*The broad genre of film that is about starting over after heartbreak or a similar event is verrrrry straight and surprisingly white, so we’re going to do the best with what we have!  Movies for this list were selected with an eye towards queerness when possible, balanced with the overall themes at hand. 

**Two movies on this list are actually TV shows, but they are either gay or gay classics. And I make the rules! Pretend they are a really long movie, sometimes you need something lengthy to binge to while you cry anyway.

Movies Are About DIVORCE

Sure, yes, plenty of movies on this list are about divorce, but these movies are really about divorce. You want to pick apart the minutia of someone else’s relationship as a break from picking apart your own. This is for when you want peak reality, and it should not be entered into lightly. This is for the opposite of escapism. This is Divorce Supreme,TM if you will.

Eva + Candela (2018)

dir. Ruth Caudeli

Evan and Candela stroke each other's faces

💍💜 Here’s what our Senior Editor Drew had to say when selecting Eva + Candela for our best movies of the decade list: “Bless Ruth Caudeli’s debut feature for showing our heartbreak the way it usually occurs in all its messy emotions. Most queer women don’t break up because of queerness. Most breakup because God fucking damnit sustaining a relationship – years with another person! years! – is very, very difficult.”

(Drew privately described this to me as the lesbian Blue Valentine, so prepare accordingly.)

Master of None Presents: Moments In Love (2021)

dir. Aziz Ansari
Lena Waithe dances while folding laundry with her wife in Master of None

💍💜 Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s infamous 1974 divorce film Scenes From A Marriage, Master of None’s third season is a standalone series on its own centered on Lena Waithe’s Denise, previously a side character. As I noted when the series first debuted on Netflix, “Denise has always been written around Waithe’s voice, and never more so than when she now finds herself a successful writer whose fame and wealth has isolated her from her friends and in the throes of adultery and divorce (yes, the comparisons write themselves).”

Master of None: Moments In Love is easily Lena Waithe’s best work on screen, and one of the most beautiful, detailed, messy portrayals of Black lesbians that I’ve ever seen on television.

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

dir. Robert Benton
Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman hug in Kramer Vs Kramer


Movies to Remind You That Every Day Is a New Day to Start Over

Now we are in a category of movies that are not all topically about “divorce” per se (though, in fact, many of these movies are still about divorce), instead what we are going for here are movies that are to a very depressed person going through immense life trauma what a sports movie would be to a teenage softball team watching something together for team bonding night.

These films want you to get back up and try again.

But it’s ok if you can’t get back up starting right now. Stay on the couch. Cry a little more first.

Appropriate Behavior (2014)

dir. Desiree Akhavan

A Persian woman in her 20s is sitting on a toilet and she is very sad

💜 Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior is visceral and gripping, Shirin (also Desiree Akhavan) is going through a messy ass break up that our Managing Editor Kayla called “exploration of cultural expectations, heartbreak, family” and Drew called “a flurry of bisexual chaos.” What’s amazing is that both are true.

Lianna (1983)

dir. John Sayles

A couple holds each other in bed in Lillianna

💜 Lianna (Linda Griffiths) is the young wife of a professor who’s bored with her life and justifiably upset at her husband’s adultery. But watch out because Lianna is going to have an affair of her own with another woman. I’m not going to say that this is a Happily Ever After, but I am going to say that sometimes finally figuring out what you want when all you’ve ever been able to feel before that moment that is frozen and stuck, is so so worth it.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)

dir. Martin Scorsese

Ellen Buryston is serving pie in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

After the death of her husband, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) and her son, Tommy, leave New Mexico and head even more west to California, where Alice plans to make it big as a singer. Some money troubles land them in Arizona instead, where Alice takes a job as a waitress in a diner.

I don’t know y’all, I don’t usually hear the words “Martin + Scorsese” and think romantic dramedy? And that alone is worth being on this list.

Sister Aimee (2019)

dirs. Marie Schlingmann, Samantha Buck

Two women in the 1960s in front of a tractor in Sister Aimee

💜 Let me tell you how Drew sold me on this movie: “Aimee fakes her own death, or evaporates according to one follower, and she and Kenny set off for Mexico. She’s too famous for them to simply drive down to the border so they hire a Mexican guide to first take them across the Southwest and then down to Mexico using only hidden roads. The guide’s name is Rey. She’s a woman and she’s hot.”

Are you not entertained!?!?

Grace and Frankie (2015-2022)

showrunners Marta Kauffman, Howard J. Morris

Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in Grace and Frankie

💍💜 And here we have our second and final exception to this “film” list — at least Master of None: Moments in Love is based on an iconic film about divorce, Grace and Frankie is a straight up sitcom. But I dare you to look me in the eye and tell me that a little Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin wouldn’t hit the spot right now. I thought so.

Boys on the Side (1995)

dir. Herbert Ross

Whoopi Goldberg points and smiles in Boys on the Side

💜 After breaking up with her girlfriend, Jane (Whoopi Goldberg) answers a personal ad — aaaawww, the 90s!! — from Robin (Mary-Louise Parker), a real estate agent with HIV who’s seeking a cross-country travel partner. On their their way from New York City to LA, they go to Pittsburgh and pick up Holly (Drew Barrymore), who is trying to escape an abusive relationship. You will laugh. You will reconsider the deep meaning of friendship. You will cry and then also, cry some more.

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

dirs. Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Michelle Yeoh protects her family in Everything Everywhere All at Once

💍💜 Everything Everywhere All at Once is such a poetic, dildo-fighting, action-packed reminder that there are millions of us, living our lives on trillions of timelines.

And in a world of never-ending stories, babe you deserve to be happy in this one.

Movies That Are About Starting Over, but Against the Background of a Villa, Ranch, or Any Location That’s Otherwise Really F*cking Beautiful to Look At

Similar to above, these films are still here to remind you that there’s a new life on the other side of your sadness. But maaaaybe what you need if for that new life to come with a better view.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

dir. Audrey Wells

Diane Lane smiles in the sunlight in Under the Tuscan Sun

💍💜 A fun fact about me is that I have an annual summer tradition of watching Under the Tuscan Sun and making fresh basil marinara from farmer’s market tomatoes. It’s perfect and I cannot imagine a better, simply gorgeous movie to watch as you contemplate starting over again. Plus, there’s bonus Kate Walsh and Sandra Oh being lesbians.

I said: Dr. Addison Montgomery and Dr. Christina Yang. Lesbianing. Together.

Summertime (1955)

dir. David Lean

Katherine Hepburn eats lunch in the French Riviera in Summertime (the film)

Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn), a middle-aged secretary from the Midwest, has never found love. And she’s ready to accept young spinsterhood as it were, but not before using all her savings finance a summer in Venice. On her romantic retreats for one, Jane meets someone whom she believes will be the man of her dreams. Ultimately, she will have to decide whether her happiness can come at the unhappiness of others. It’s gorgeous, it’s Italian, it’s 1950s glam, and it’s Katharine effing Hepburn. What more can you possibly need??

Desert Hearts (1986)

dir. Donna Deitch

Two women in the 1980s walk the desert at sunset in Desert Hearts

💍💜 Heather Hogan put it simply and put it best: “Desert Hearts is the first lesbian movie that made me cry.”

And we mean “cry” in the beautiful way, not the sad one.

Love, Spells and All That (2019)

dir. Ümit Ünal

The silhouette of two women sitting on a cliff with overhanging trees and broad, white sky

💜 Eren (Ece Dizdar), the daughter of an important politician, and Reyhan (Selen Uçer) , the daughter of one of his workers, fell in love as teenagers. After being separated when Eren left for university in Paris, 20 years later Eren returns to the small Turkish town where they grew up. She declares that she never stopped loving Reyhan, but Reyhan, who’s now built a life of her own, remains uncertain — even though it was Reyhan who once once cast a love spell to make Eren love her forever in the first place.

Divorce Movies to Cry From Laughter (Because You Physically Cannot Handle Doing the Other Type of Crying Anymore)

The majority of this list falls somewhere on a scale of “pleasantly bittersweet or wistful” to “outright weeper.” These following films are decidedly not that. These are purely for mindless joy only.

Thinking is not allowed here. I mean it!!

This is a zero thinking zone.

Ok! Dig in.

First Wives Club (1996)

dir. Hugh Wilson

Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, and Bette Milder in 90s clothes looking excellent in First Wives Club

💍💜 Y’all really don’t need me to describe this one. It’s a classic for a reason.

The Parent Trap (1996)

dir. Nancy Meyers

Lindsay Lohan plays two twins at summer camp eating at a table in The Parent Trap

💍 Arguably Lindsay Lohan’s greatest movie not named Mean Girls? Arguably Lindsay Lohan’s greatest movie, including Mean Girls? Yes. Yes it is.

Bad Moms (2016)

dirs. Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn demonstrate one of the messiest ways to make a white Russian in Bad Moms.

💍 It’s very hard to describe Bad Moms. In a list that encourages you to turn off your brain, perhaps no film more requires that central task. Three moms in suburban Chicago get exhausted by the expectations of patriarchal family life and decide to embrace failure as an ethos. There is something beautiful about that, underneath the crass humor and raunchy jokes (though those jokes really do hit). Now if only they had released themselves from heterosexuality, too.

Girl’s Trip (2017)

dir. Malcolm D. Lee

Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, and Queen Latifah laugh in bed together in Girl's Trip

💍 There is not a funk that Girl’s Trip hasn’t clawed me out of, not a depressive episode that it did not give me at least a two-hour reprieve from. I have never laughed harder, or more reliably. But that’s not the real reason it’s on this list. Once upon a time, a friend sold me on the theory that if you watch Girl’s Trip believing that Queen Latifah’s character and Regina’ Hall’s character are college exes — nothing in the movie will tell you that you are wrong.

Knowing that information elevated what was already a near pitch-perfect movie experience, and you deserve similar perfection in your life today.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

dir. Robert Zemeckis

Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep play undead glamorous zombies in Death Becomes Her

💍 Dark, glamorous, and campy — there really is nothing like Death Becomes Her. Madeline (Meryl Streep) and Helen (Goldie Hawn) are longtime rivals who keep vying for the same man, Dr. Ernest Menville (Bruce Willis). There’s a fountain of youth twist that I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it, but what makes Death Becomes Her so delicious is its ability to take the most superficial takes about expectations of beauty and heterosexuality and instead twist them inside out. Being (un)dead never looked so good.

Divorce Movies in the Aesthetic of a Quiet Luxury Nancy Meyers Kitchen With a Farmhouse Sink Worthy of Envy

Technically “divorce” is not a formally recognized genre of film. But I also promise you that when I said “divorce movies” — somewhere in the back of your mind you imagined Meryl Streep in an off-white chunky sweater in an open floorpan kitchen at sunset. So far be it for me to leave you hanging.

It’s Complicated (2009)

dir. Nancy Meyers

💍 Is It’s Complicated an emphatically and a possibly even brutally straight rom-com? Probably so. It’s central conflict involves a love triangle between Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin. But you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Meryl Streep’s Jane get high and bake chocolate croissants in the middle of the night after a first date. In fact, you’re going to wish that you were her date instead.

Heartburn (1986)

dir. Mike Nichols

Meryl Streep in sunglasses looking depressed in an 1980s supermarket in Heartburn

💍 Another (and our final!) Meryl Streep contribution! With four films, she’s featured more than any other actor. I’m sure there’s a reason for that, something about how women going through divorce are one of the few “well-rounded” dramatic roles about women available in Hollywood — that’s not an official theory, just a sarcastic guess. Ahem.

Heartburn (the film) comes from Nora Ephron’s 1983 novel, Heartburn (the book), which fictionalizes the events of Ephron’s divorce from journalist Carl Bernstein in 1980. In it, Streep stars as Rachel Samstat, a food writer based on Ephron’s work as a culture writer and personal essayist. In the 2013 documentary Makers: Women Who Make America, Ephron describes Heartburn thusly, “I’m really not interested in women as victims; so one of the things I like about Heartburn is that it is basically: Look what happened to me, and guess what? I get to have the last laugh because I get to be funny about it.” Yeah, you definitely are gonna wanna see that.

A Simple Favor (2018)

dir. Paul Feig

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively toast in A Simple Favor

💍💜 “Baby, if you apologize again, I’m going to have to slap the sorry out of you,” Blake Lively was simply born to play the glamorous next door neighbor that you erotically obsess over. And Ana Kendrick does said erotic obsession so neatly that sometimes it’s hard to tell if she was in on the joke of this satire, but it won’t matter because the ride is worth it regardless.

Now I have to be honest with you, I could not technically remember if there’s a divorce somewhere within A Simple Favor, because I cannot remember most of the plot. I only remember Blake Lively’s smirk and that tuxedo she wears and martini glasses. Just as God intended.

Divorce Movies in the Aesthetic of Angela Bassett Blowing Up Her Husband’s Car in the Arizona Sun While Wearing a Robe and Smoking a Cigarette

If by any chance you didn’t think of Meryl drinking a glass of pinot, for sure you thought of Angela Bassett burning her cheating exe’s shit up in a car while wearing an extremely  silk robe and perfectly pressed and curled hair, with Mary J Blige singing in the background.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

dir. Kevin Rodney Sullivan

💍 How Stella Got Her Groove Back stars Angela Bassett in a Terry McMillan fictionalized memoir about a woman in her 40s who goes on vacation and falls in love with a man roughly half her age. But what is most devastating to me is that until I made this very list you are reading right now, I could have sworn that Whoopi Goldberg plays a lesbian in this movie. Sadly, she does not. She’s just Angela’s bestie. But I feel confident we can all pretend anyway.

Waiting to Exhale (1995)

dir. Forest Whitaker

Angela Bassett blows up her husband's car in Waiting to Exhale

💍 Do I even have to say it?? Right. I don’t think I do.

(But I will add the two following points: First, Terry McMillan, Nancy Meyers, and Nora Ephron are the gahdamn GOATs of crafting divorce stories, put respect on their names. Second, bi-con Whitney Houston! You’re welcome.)

It’s Literally Just Carol

When I was assembling together this list, I ran it past a panel of experts, by which I mean other Autostraddle editors. Our Senior Editor, Drew, added Carol to the list and then immediately after it put “I’m sorry.”

But you know what? She was right. And she should say it.

Carol (2015)

dir. Todd Haynes

Cate Blanchett smokes a cigarette as Carol in the film Carol

💍 Every day is lesbian Christmas if you wish it hard enough.

Divorce Week is a celebration of taking a life-changing step, of coming out the other side of devastating trauma and being all the better for it. It’s co-edited and curated by Nico Hall and Carmen Phillips. Remember, you may be divorced, but you’re not alone.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

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Carmen Phillips

Carmen is Autostraddle's Editor-in-Chief and a Black Puerto Rican femme/inist writer. She claims many past homes, but left the largest parts of her heart in Detroit, Brooklyn, and Buffalo, NY. There were several years in her early 20s when she earnestly slept with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Fire Next Time” under her pillow. You can find her on twitter, @carmencitaloves.

Carmen has written 700 articles for us.


  1. I couldn’t fit these fun stats into the article proper, but in case anyone was interested, there are a lot of repeat players in the genre broadly known as “blow up your life and start it all over”:

    Meryl Streep — 4
    Angela Bassett — 2
    Whoopi Goldberg — 2
    Goldie Hawn — 2

    In terms of directors, Nancy Meyers is also on this list twice. Two of these films take place in Arizona (and two take place in Italy), which statistically probably isn’t a lot, but somehow still feels significant to the general proceedings.

  2. Love these suggestions! Thank you for sharing these great ideas, the themed categories are so perfect. Also there are many films I haven’t come across before (I am embarrassed to admit I basically only knew Carol). I can’t wait to watch these. Creating myself a film playlist for these now.

  3. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once does feature divorce! The husband, Waymond, is planning to divorce Yeoh’s character and when she finds out, it strains their relationship throughout the movie.

  4. I know exactly what you mean by the way you’ve described these types of films, and though I’m not going through a divorce, I definitely need this list! And a lot of these I haven’t seen, so thank you!

    Also – The Parent Trap is my favourite film of all time, so I absolutely agree that it’s Lindsay Lohan’s best film, *including* Mean Girls

    • Thanks C! (this is funny to type because “C” is one of my Autostraddle nicknames, often used by Heather Hogan! haha) — this means a lot to me, I love organizing movies together into lil lists for fun and hearing that you vibed with how i described them and it applies for you is just great. Happy crying!?!? And I completely agree about Lindsay Lohan/Mean Girls.

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