The Best Breakup Scenes? Classifying on-screen heartbreak into a “best” category may be a little callous. But just like your ex, we’re going to do whatever we want, anyway! Just kidding. We made a list of the saddest movie breakup scenes in recent years. So however you choose to judge those gut wrenching moments in cinema, the ones that capture the truth and rawness of what breakups actually feel like, you can check them out below. The saddest ones are often the ones that have no makeup scene to follow. Of course, we added those scenes in too, for the select few characters that did get so lucky. We threw in some more ambiguous breakups because what’s love without some uncomfortable ambiguity, am I right?
Best Movie Breakup Scenes
The best breakups and makeups
These are the best breakup scenes ever. Well, not ever. I’m leaving out Casablanca and some more dated, though classic films, to give our era some love. Trust me, it needs it.
Here are the more conventional breakup/makeup scenes.
Even if you’re someone who walks around thinking “I only watch good movies,” that’s too bad. This movie is a ridiculously romantic story and equally raw for such a Hollywood hit. These next three scenes will make anyone cry...even the final makeup scene makes me want to die a little.
Here’s the initial breakup scene:
When they meet again after years:
They breakup and quickly makeup for a final time, because obviously they’ll get back together:
You had me at what a great freakin makeup scene. The breakup scene too, happens so naturally and yet is so filled with anxiety. It hurts to watch if I didn’t already know what was coming next.
Dorothy (Renée Zellweger) breaks up with Jerry (Tom Cruise).
A classic example of a near perfect cinematic breakup. It has nothing to do with love and all to do with Will’s insecurities. The fight sparks inconveniently right before Minnie Driver’s character is set to leave for California.
Here’s the breakup scene:
What’s interesting about this makeup scene is that it’s assumed, but we never actually see it. That famous note or rather, voiceover, “I had to see about a girl” gives us all the catharsis we need.
Here are some less conventional breakup and makeup scenes. One involves futuristic technology, and the others are a bit more ambiguous.
Possibly one of the greatest love stories of our time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman gives us an interesting spin on the kiss and makeup adage.
The” breakup scene” here is the moment Joel (Jim Carrey) finds out that Clementine (Kate Winslet) has deleted him from her memory.
This makeup scene is extremely unconventional. After having their memories erased, they’re not even sure why they’re together, but Joel insists that she “just waits...awhile.” This is a remarkable reuniting scene because it’s based on a feeling, not reasoning, or logic - their souls find each other again, and they choose to not let it go in the end.
Like Crazy, stars Felicity Jones and the late, Anton Yelchin. It follows an English girl and American boy’s long distance-love as they navigate much more than distance. It’s a story of “I can’t live with, or without you”,done in such an original way.
There was no script for this film either. It’s one of the rawest accounts of young love I’ve seen in a long time.
This first scene is when they’re Jacob (Anton) and Anna (Felicity) are living different lives in different cities. The phone call scene depicts the breakup/makeup peaks and valleys so true of long distance love.
The next is one of their inevitable fights from living apart for so long:
But in the end, they can’t be without one another. Even if the ending scene is confusing and painful. They stand in the shower together, thinking back to an earlier version of their partner. It’s sad and real, and we’re left thinking they’ll never be happy without each other or with each other.
I don’t know about you, but I think we need something a little lighter right about now.
Okay, so this doesn’t start out that light. But it does end well.
Here’s that sad, sad, divorce scene.
Even though the screenwriters almost had them get back together, ultimately, their message was stronger with the divorce. Families can still be families regardless of their arrangement. And that’s what makes this last scene such a great makeup scene.
Honorable mention: High Fidelity - that entire movie had so many breakups I don’t know where to start.
But I’ll leave with the iconic “Proposal Scene.” And if you haven’t seen it - yes, they do end up together.
Of course, as a viewer, the most painful breakups are the ones that have no resolution. Let’s get into the list where the characters did not get back together. For better or worse.
Saddest Movie Breakups
No, no we’re really broken up this time
Whether the final breakup comes in a comedic spin or gut wrenching realism, the audience has to find catharsis in a different way. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we want, and that’s okay too, because sometimes it’s way better.
One of those examples comes from Jason Segel who wrote and starred in this hilarious breakup movie.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Jason Segel’s character, Peter Bretter, has just been dumped by the love of his life. The breakup scene is epic, but not because he’s completely naked for its entirety. It’s actually pretty real, but yes, because he’s incredibly naked, it’s also hilarious.
500 days of Summer
Making our way down the list, 500 Days of Summer is a non-linear film about a relationship, and so the audience feels the pain of the breakup with the Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Here’s the initial breakup scene:
Later in the film, they meet up again, and she invites him to her house, only to find out it’s her engagement party:
And finally, the makeup scene that has nothing to do with them getting back together, and everything to do with the painful truths of why people breakup.
This movie is underrated. It stars Justin Long and Emmy Rossum, and it’s not that it’s so incredible as a whole, but there are a few scenes that do certain things, really, really well. One of which, is this particular breakup scene. The level of vulnerability, particularly placed pauses, the moments of truth, and the “I’ll hurt you, before you hurt me again” reversal, all contribute to an honest portrayal of what it’s like to get hurt.
Call Me By Your Name
I didn’t love this film as a whole. But I did love Timothée Chalamet’s performance, and his character Elio. This isn’t so much a break up scene as it is watching a boy get his heart broken by the world.
The first clip shows us that initial sting, and the only way he knows how to handle it.
Elio’s innocence and naivety of the world is juxtaposed against the realities of heartbreak and specifically, society’s expectations. His pain and expression of true sadness exemplifies his duality - he is a child confronted with the world’s harsh realities, and somehow an old soul feeling at such a deep level beyond the world’s usual confines.
Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in this emotionally gripping drama of a couple’s marriage falling apart. The film takes us through early moments of courtship juxtaposing enchantment with discord. The films ends with Gosling character’s walking out. We can assume it’s really over, but it remains up for interpretation.
La La Land
What doesn’t remain up for interpretation is the very final and painful decision Damien Chazelle made in La La Land.
We get a glimpse of a “what if” ending, and then reality sets in for both the characters, and the audience.
The painful truth of this ending comes in the form of self-reflection. The choices we make, or don’t make. What could’ve been isn’t, and maybe that’s okay. But it sure is hard to watch.
Blue is the Warmest Color
Whether you’ve seen it or not, its popularity is irrelevant to me. This is the best breakup scene period. Some of this scene is improv number one, but also, it is the realest breakup scene I have ever watched.
No matter how incredible the other ones were, I’m not sure I can put them above it - for performance, improv, and writing.
The reuniting scene is equally as powerful. It isn’t them reuniting at all. In fact, it acts as almost as a second breakup scene.
Even after the sexual tension they almost act on, the end completely eliminates the possibility of them ever being together again. And that finality gives this breakup the number one spot. Was I even ranking them this whole time? Not really. But this wins.
Most Romantic Lines from Movies
Now that we’re all sufficiently depressed, you are welcome. Let’s pull ourselves out of this funk with our next post, and check out some of the most romantic love quotes of all time.