16 movies to get you through your divorce

Apr 15, 2023
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Divorce is one of the most challenging times of your life – whether you’re 25 or 75. There are many ways of dealing with stress but one medium that can take us somewhere else for a few short hours is film.

So here’s a list of 16 movies to get you through your divorce (or, at least, take your mind off it for a while).

1. Mrs Doubtfire (1993)

The reality of divorce and its effect on families are laid bare in this drama, which is turned into a comedy through the genius of the late Robin Williams. 

It’s the story of a divorced father who, in order to spend time with his children, disguises himself as an elderly lady and is hired as a housekeeper by his ex-wife (Sally Field). Keeping his real identity a secret leads to many tense (and hilarious) situations. Interaction with his family eventually helps him to form a stronger bond with his children while, at the same time, also bringing his ex-wife closer to the kids. 

An entertaining film with a moving message that separating families could relate to. 

2. Kramer versus Kramer (1979)

A classic and thought-provoking courtroom drama exposing the emotions and complex legalities when a divorcing couple fight tooth and nail for custody. Many of life’s issues surrounding divorce are dissected by lawyers on both sides, without either parent portrayed as the villain. 

Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep provide brilliant Oscar-winning performances making it very difficult to take sides.

3. The War Of The Roses (1989)

If you thought the Kramers went hammer and tong against each other in the 70s, watch what the Roses do to one another in the 80s – “War” is a seriously misleading understatement.

A wealthy couple determined to hang on to every possible material possession without giving an inch to the bitter end – literally. It is one of the darkest satirical comedies ever made, having you on the edge of your seat and, at the same time, doubled up with laughter. With Danny de Vito acting and directing the movie, what else could you expect?

4. Waiting To Exhale (1995)

Four women in Arizona venting to each other about the rotten men in their lives and what they do to change their destinies. 

One is running out of patience for her married lover to leave his wife and marry her, while another discovers her ex-husband is gay. One of the central characters, Bernie, played by Angela Basset, has sacrificed her career to support her husband build his business. When she discovers that he is planning to leave her and marry his accountant, Bernie gets mad and vows to get even.

5. The First Wives Club (1996)

With Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn in one room you’re bound to get a few laughs as they play three fearsome divorcees seeking vengeance for their cheating, good-for-nothing husbands. 

One is a sharp, witty, Mafia–connected, Sicilian-Jewish single mother (what a combination); another is a chain-smoking, alcoholic actress, while the third is simply a neurotic housewife. After reuniting at a funeral and learning of each other’s plights they form a sisterhood and set out their wicked plan, The First Wives Club.

6. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

They could have not come up with a more appropriate name for this absorbing romantic comedy. Crazy stupid love is what you get from the first scene to the last, with a cast packed with mega-stars all giving stunning performances.

Cal, a middle-aged man played by Steve Carrell, discovers his wife is leaving him and sets out to learn the art of picking up women from Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a successful womanizer. Things become complicated when Cal ends up competing with his son for the affection of the 17-year-old babysitter and Jacob, the womanizer, seeks advice about real relationships from his pupil, Cal, after falling for a girl who turns out to be Cal’s daughter.

7. Marriage Story (2019)

This star-packed drama strips bare the emotional impact of divorce with some funny moments thrown in. In very true-to-life terms, it tells the story of two like-minded people initially wishing to divorce amicably but soon turns into a full-scale war as their ruthless lawyers slug it out in court, attacking each other’s credibility and airing their clients’ dirty laundry for all to hear. The very things they both set out to avoid. Doesn’t that ring a bell?

The actors put in superb performances, taking the audience through an emotional rollercoaster with anger, frustration, remorse, and disappointment, yet with empathy, love and a little comedy thrown in. A highly sensitive film that may have you wondering which of your tears were of sadness and which were of laughter.

8. Stepmom (1998)

More drama than comedy, this film tells the story of a divorced couple, already struggling to co-parent, but becomes more complicated when the mother discovers she is terminally ill and her ex-husband’s new lover is a younger woman who’ll end up being her children’s stepmother. Being aggrieved that she will not see her children grow she begins to resent the younger woman, understandably making life difficult for everybody.

The movie explores many of the emotions that death and divorce experience by the whole family, each learning to come to terms with the inevitable. It has a heart-wrenching ending but, in a strange way, it may still leave you feeling OK.

9. He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

A romantic, comedy-drama with a complicated storyline about nine people in their twenties and thirties drifting in and out of relationships. The modern complexities of love are experienced and explored by our protagonists in their pursuit of romance and finding the right partners. 

10. Under The Tuscan Sun (2003)

This is definitely one of the best movies to watch to get you through a divorce. It’s a story of a recently-divorced American writer who is encouraged by a friend to take a trip to beautiful Tuscany to get out of her depression and start writing again.

Stunning scenery and a story of starting a brand new life in a whole new place, this is one to add to your list for sure.

11. The Story Of Us (1999)

This movie might appeal most to couples contemplating divorce, as it raises many common issues couples experience at some stage of their relationship. It’s a romantic comedy-drama about a couple that have been married for 15 years and have two kids but has drifted apart. In fact, these two – Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer – can’t stand each other. 

They do their best to hold it together, trying a trial separation, counselling and discussing their situation with their own circle of friends. Want to know how it ends? Watch it and find out.

12. Joy (2015)

This film is loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, a single mother who built an empire by designing, patenting and marketing a self-wringing mop while dealing with a highly complicated family lifeIt’s about her long struggle dealing, not only with her own difficult family spanning some four generations but also with the treachery, deceit and many of the ills we’ve come to expect from the corporate world of today.

Her relationships with the various family members and business associates are tested to the limit as she struggles to keep her family together and her business empire going. A thoroughly inspiring story of grit and determination against huge odds and in extremely difficult circumstances.

13. Death Becomes Her (1992)

A satirical black comedy, drama and sci-fi all rolled into one with a hilariously bizarre storyline.

Two women (played by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn), vying for the attention of one man. One is a narcissistic actress searching for eternal youth and the other is a psychiatric depressed writer who has only one thing on her mind – to take revenge on the actress for stealing her plastic surgeon fiancé seven years before who is now an alcoholic (Bruce Willis). 

Sounds bizarre but when you’re going through a divorce this film will at least lighten the mood for a few hours.

14. Eat Pray Love (2010)

This is the inspirational story of New York Times author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who after her divorce, sets out to travel the world. To cut a long story short, she finds the “Eat” part in Italy (where else?), the “Pray” in India and then, finally, finds true “Love” in tropical Bali.

15. Wild (2014)

This is another true-life story: of writer Cheryl Strayed who, after her divorce and her mother’s death, spiralled into a deep depression. She attempts to rediscover the person her mother wanted her to be. Despite having no experience she sets out to hike solo 1,800 km on the Pacific Crest Trail, through some of the toughest terrains in the USA. 

Throughout her journey, she learns to overcome countless challenges and meets numerous interesting characters while reflecting on her life.  

A tough watch but this movie shows that every one of us can overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

16. Definitely, Maybe (2008)

This film is both funny and sad as it exposes the tragedies of divorce and the effect it can have on children. It is the story of a father who tries to help his 10-year-old daughter understand why her parents are divorcing. He tells her about his past relationships with three women and how he met her mother. He changes the names, leaving his daughter to guess which one is her mother. 

Ryan Reynolds alone makes this film a must-add-to-your-list-now.

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