Breakups in fiction
December 23, 2006 11:19 AM   Subscribe

What are some great novels and movies about breakups and divorce?

I'm interested in finding novels and movies that deal with the breakdown of relationships, either marriage or serious relationships. The book/movie can be about the relationship as a whole, but the breakdown should be central to it. Examples would be "Goodbye, Columbus" and "Annie Hall".
posted by tabulem to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Ice Storm, directed by Ang Lee
posted by fire&wings at 11:21 AM on December 23, 2006


Kramer vs Kramer
Irreconcilable Differences
posted by loiseau at 11:23 AM on December 23, 2006


That War of the Roses. The final scene is precious.
posted by porpoise at 11:25 AM on December 23, 2006


She-Devil :) revenge movie. :)
posted by Listener at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2006


In the spirit of the season, The Ref (although it has a happy ending, pretty darkly funny depiction of a divorcing couple).
posted by sarahkeebs at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2006


My husband and I just watched, "The Squid and the Whale" which was pretty interesting. It depicted the childrens' changing relationships with their parents as well as the parents' changing dynamic.
posted by christinetheslp at 11:38 AM on December 23, 2006


Seconding She-Devil, but check out the BBC version. Although the Roseanne version has its moments.

Also, The Squid and the Whale.

posted by kimdog at 11:39 AM on December 23, 2006


Probably the most profound book I've read about a breakup was Graham Greene's The End of the Affair.

I haven't seen the film adaptation, which I hear is pretty good.
posted by Bromius at 11:40 AM on December 23, 2006


High Fidelity, War of the Roses, Singles, The Royal Tenanbaums(sp?) and The Squid and the Whale all spring to mind. Also Ruthless People, they're not divorced, but they should be!
posted by B-squared at 11:40 AM on December 23, 2006


Films

-- Scenes from a Marriage
-- Carnal Knowledge (sort of--not really about divorce, but the entirety is about men and women not being able to communicate; one of my all time fave films)
posted by dobbs at 11:40 AM on December 23, 2006


Oh, and Closer is a devastating look at relationships.
posted by B-squared at 11:42 AM on December 23, 2006


The Royal Tenenbaums
Mrs. Doubtfire
Secret Window (which is based on a Stephen King story)
First Wives Club of course...

I second B-squared's High Fidelity
posted by sarahkeebs at 11:45 AM on December 23, 2006


The Breakup with Jennifer Aniston.

Falling: The Story of One Marriage, by John Taylor isn't fiction, but it reads like it.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:46 AM on December 23, 2006


Oh, for literature, Judy Blume's It's Not the End of the World is so so good. It's more about the kids' perspective but I read it again in my late 20s and still found it very relevant and moving.
posted by loiseau at 11:53 AM on December 23, 2006


...Annie Hall was mentioned by the poster.

Radio Flyer
The Parent Trap
An Unmarried Woman
posted by iconomy at 11:57 AM on December 23, 2006


We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
posted by Robot Rowboat at 12:00 PM on December 23, 2006


Kicking self, did not see the examples cited. Maybe 'Intimacy'?
posted by cottoncandyhammer at 12:01 PM on December 23, 2006


My First Wife is a fantastic movie.
posted by iconomy at 12:03 PM on December 23, 2006


"Shoot The Moon".
1982.
Directed by Alan Parker.
Albert Finney, Diane Keaton, Peter Weller, Karen Allen.
Devastating.
posted by Dizzy at 12:09 PM on December 23, 2006


I'll second Closer as a particularly harsh look at the disintegration of two intertwined relationships.
posted by Inkoate at 12:12 PM on December 23, 2006


I should of read the question better. The movie The Breakup is NOT great.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2006


I'll second B-squared on Closer.

And that Natalie Portman performance is worth the price of admission, alone...will definitely make you forget that Rebels vs. Empire hodgepodge.
posted by Exchequer at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2006


a lion in winter

who's afraid of virginia wolf

ordinary people

if i think of any others i'll add them.
posted by nola at 12:28 PM on December 23, 2006


Intimacy is terrific.
posted by dobbs at 12:29 PM on December 23, 2006


Your Friends and Neighbors.
posted by dobbs at 12:32 PM on December 23, 2006


If you like Annie Hall, there's a lot of what's in there in other Woody Allen movies, like Manhattan.
posted by stereo at 12:33 PM on December 23, 2006


Heartburn -- both the book by Nora Ephron and the movie starring Meryl Streep -- were well-reviewed at the time (mid-eighties). Can't say how they've aged...
posted by CMichaelCook at 12:37 PM on December 23, 2006


Husbands & Wives and Celebrity are two other Allen movies that have breakups/divorces at their core. I prefer them both to Annie Hall, personally.

And Roger Dodger isn't about divorce but a breakup propels the all the action of the main character.
posted by dobbs at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2006


seconding HIGH FIDELITY (both book and movie are great).
seconding THE SQUID AND THE WHALE (film)
seconding BLANKETS (graphic novel)

also:
ONCE WERE WARRIORS (film is better than book)
THE COLOUR PURPLE (alice walker)
SHE'S COME UNDONE (wally lamb)
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:47 PM on December 23, 2006


Hannah and Her Sisters, and Play It Again, Sam as long as we're mentioning Woody Allen movies. The Way We Were. The Gay Divorcee - 1934 Payment on Demand - 1951. Divorce, Italian Style - 1962. Divorce, American Style - 1967. Divorce His, Divorce Hers -1973 - Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on divorce. McLintock! - 1963 has some great moments between John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara that illustrate how something good gone wrong can make people crazy. Starting Over - 1979.
posted by paulsc at 12:53 PM on December 23, 2006


Mulholland Drive. In a fucked up way.
posted by dobbs at 12:58 PM on December 23, 2006


Some Japanese lit:

Kenzaburo Oe: A Personal Matter
Yasunari Kawabata: Snow Country
Yukio Mishima: After the Banquet
posted by The Straightener at 1:00 PM on December 23, 2006


Tomcat in Love
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:05 PM on December 23, 2006


The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer.
posted by pril at 1:10 PM on December 23, 2006



Heartburn -- both the book by Nora Ephron and the movie starring Meryl Streep -- were well-reviewed at the time (mid-eighties). Can't say how they've aged...


It has aged fabulously, great movie.
posted by LoriFLA at 1:31 PM on December 23, 2006


When Harry Met Sally
posted by HotPatatta at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2006


Le Divorce
posted by HotPatatta at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2006


Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
posted by Ugh at 2:00 PM on December 23, 2006


Anna Karenina
posted by trip and a half at 2:07 PM on December 23, 2006


Betrayal, by Harold Pinter, is a fantastic play that tells the story of a failed relationship backwards. One of the great pieces of modern theater. It was filmed in 1983, but it's not available.
posted by mkultra at 2:17 PM on December 23, 2006


Mystery Ride by Robert Boswell.
posted by peep at 2:45 PM on December 23, 2006


Seconding First Wives Club
"Oh and Daddy? I'm a lesbian. A BIG ONE."
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:21 PM on December 23, 2006


Julian Barnes seems to specialize in this. His novels 'Talking it over' and its sequel 'Love etc' both dealt with the end of a relationship. 'Before she met me', also by Barnes, may also fit the bill.
posted by dhruva at 3:57 PM on December 23, 2006


I'm hoping I merely missed it, but if no one else suggested it: Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage [Scener ur ett äktenskap]. The original TV version, rather than the edited movie version. A truly great study of the disintegration of a marriage, and what happens after.
posted by ubersturm at 4:19 PM on December 23, 2006


Stepmom!
posted by cholly at 4:44 PM on December 23, 2006


We Don't Live Here Anymore is not great, but worth seeing.

The Andre Dubus short stories on which it is based are excellent.
posted by rafter at 5:45 PM on December 23, 2006


Chasing Amy (not strictly about a breakup but worth seeing for a different take on the theme. And I love this film).

Similarly, Love & Sex (although I don't love it, it stuck in my mind, you'll know what I mean if you watch it.)

well those were the ones that sprang to mind, anyway.
posted by chrissyboy at 6:02 PM on December 23, 2006


Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION with Sam Neil & Isabelle Adjani is about a couple going through a divorce and its aftereffects: the onset of madness, döppelgangers as substitute lovers, and features a sccene with Adjani making love to a hideously deformed monster/creature thing...

Perfectly captures the confusion, heartache, terror, and disgust of breaking up...
posted by cinemafiend at 6:55 PM on December 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seconding Possession. SEE THIS FILM.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:10 PM on December 23, 2006


His Girl Friday and The Philadelphia Story are two of the funniest movies ever made, and although they are utterly different in tone they both star Cary Grant as a divorced rogue who charms his ex-wife into dumping her fiancée to re-marry him instead. (And they were both released in 1940!) They depict the rapprochement but are really about the reasons the two women divorced him in the first place.
posted by nicwolff at 8:02 PM on December 23, 2006


Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. I have some reading and watching to do...

I smiled at the dobbs' citation of "Mulholland Dr", which is one of my favorite movies. I never thought of it as a break-up movie, but yes, I think that's what it is, as I figured out after seeing it about three times...
posted by tabulem at 8:19 PM on December 23, 2006


The Last Kiss, a 2006 release starring Zach Braff.

And I'll third on Closer.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:33 PM on December 23, 2006


Hope Floats
posted by Sassyfras at 8:54 PM on December 23, 2006


Thirding High Fidelity, and adding Intolerable Cruelty. interesting, to say the last, if lacking somewhat in execution.
posted by Phire at 9:45 PM on December 23, 2006


Unlikely, a graphic novel by Jeffrey Brown. It tells the tale of how he lost his virginity, and then how he and this woman finally broke up. Excellent and depressing.
posted by limeonaire at 10:24 PM on December 23, 2006


"Love on the Run" from François Truffaut.
posted by JPowers at 11:10 PM on December 23, 2006


The Story of Us - 1999, starring Michelle Pfeiffer & Bruce Willis
posted by illek at 11:32 PM on December 23, 2006


We read this during my junior year of high school, and it's one of my favorite plays, but it's as much about society as it is about relationships:

The Glass Menagerie (1987)
posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:53 PM on December 23, 2006


Richard Ford The Sportswriter, Independence Day; Raymond Carver short stories; Anna Karenina as someone pointed out OF COURSE! Graham Greene The End of the Affair & plenty of others.
posted by londongeezer at 3:04 AM on December 24, 2006


Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates.
posted by saladin at 12:58 PM on December 24, 2006


« Older Boy Meets Grill(guard)   |   I want to (opportunity) to buy a bunch of stuff I... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.