10 Movies With Female Leads (and Good Men)

So, it’s Valentine’s Day this week, and I figured that lots of my single Dynamic Divorcees might be looking for something to watch on V-Day, while enjoying a decadent meal and some champagne on the couch .

If your ex never made V-Day special for you, now’s the perfect opportunity to treat yourself like the undeniably lovable person you are. Enjoy your favorite favorite meal. Buy yourself some flowers. Feel how it feels to treat yourself special (it’s the first step to having someone else treat you that way).

And, I thought, “Why not let Valentine’s Day movies make you feel good, too?”

What’s “feel good” to one woman can trigger a meltdown for another, so all I can do is recommend some movies that have helped to restore my faith in men (as well as faith in myself). Take your pick depending on what you’re in the mood for.

For my movie picks specifically about divorce, click here.

For my Valentine’s Day favorite films (or anytime viewing when you feel low), keep reading. Links to viewing are included with each title (and at the bottom of this post).

I’ve chosen two themes for this Valentine’s Day movie list for divorcees: reminders that good, thoughtful men do exist, and a bunch of movies about women figuring out who they are (with the occasional man finally coming around to respect them).

Ever notice how all you ever see in media is horror stories about horrible, lying, cheating, feckless men — and we’ve all come to believe that they are in the majority, and that they are the dreck we now would have to settle for in our relationships?

Oh my god, not more settling! I am so done with that.

I truly believe that we condition our expectations by what we choose to see and by what we allow into our worlds on a daily basis. And that includes the things we read and the films we watch.

That’s why I’ve been searching out films that are “real” but that also make me feel uplifted and encouraged.

So, let’s go!

If you want to remind yourself that there are good men out there:

Julie & Julia, the movie that started me off on this post. I recently watched it again after many years, and I was taken, all over again, by the awesomeness of Paul Child, Julia’s husband (played by Stanley Tucci). It helps that I am a total sucker for Stanley Tucci, but, what a husband! First, he sees the value in Julia — who would not have been the romantic dream of the average man in the 1940s. He understands her, supports her, and . . . well, if you haven’t seen this film and you want to be reminded of what an amazing husband is like, this is a must see. Yes, they are out there, ladies! When I first saw Julie & Julia (right around the time of my divorce), I thought that this must be the glamorized version of Julia Child’s marriage. But, there’s a book on which the Julia portion of this movie was based. I read it. It’s true; they really did have this type of marriage. These male unicorns exist. And, maybe they’re not that rare (subject of an upcoming post . . .). By the way, the blogger’s husband in this movie is a prince as well (and appears to have been in real life).

Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity If you love Sandra Oh, this is a must-see. A little girl tries to find a boyfriend for her exhausted, overworked, divorced mother (using traditional Chinese magic) . . . and a good guy is already on the scene (but invisible to the harried, jaded mom). If you’re overworked, underloved, and ready to give up on love, this is an understated heartwarmer.

Cloudy With a Chance of Sunshine Four people who have experienced the hard knocks of life learn to open up and let the right one in. So many examples of how to put yourself out there and meet someone in this movie. So much in this cute indy flick about taking the chances that are offered to everyone in the course of a day. And a big theme of how everyone has a backstory, everyone has baggage, but it doesn’t have to define you. Hippie chick meets technical writer and lots of misses and misunderstandings ensue. Writer’s father meets neighbor lady . . . and that’s all I’ll give away about this hopeful and endearing film.

My Big, Fat Greek Wedding Well, you know this one. A misfit girl with an overbearing family meets the perfect guy for her (by accident, which is how the best things always seem to happen). And, there are a few missteps, and everyone learns to appreciate the best in each other . . . . It can happen for a post-divorce relationship (or gasp, a second marriage), too! More than that, this is a great story about how a woman gets unstuck, finds herself (even within the close confines of an ethnic community), and claims her identity.

Girl on a Bicycle (subtitles) A man proposes to his live-in girlfriend, but then . . . he spots a woman on a bicycle at a stoplight, and he starts obsessing about her. Why is this on my list of movies about good guys? Keep watching. This is lovely, fun, lighthearted Italian/French/German romance that will restore your faith in people.

Lulu (subtitles) A woman, made to feel useless by her verbally abusive husband, botches a low-level job interview and can’t bear to go home. Through the kindness of an unusual stranger and his brothers, Lulu begins to come back to life during this extended time out. The process is almost like watching a plant absorb water. Her small adventures lead to unexpected changes when she finally returns home. If you feel you’ve been beaten down for years (or decades) and don’t know where to begin to find yourself again, this is a slow, quiet, beautiful film to encourage you.

If you want to see a woman rediscover herself, and make life be about her, for a change:

Shirley Valentine This one from the ‘80s starts slow, but it’s a great V-Day watch. Stars Pauline Collins, one of my longtime favorite Brit comediennes. She’s an ignored, midlife housewife who has the chance to break free on a vacation to Greece. She wants to get her pre-marriage self back, and she does — with a brief episode of romance (that she doesn’t allow to throw her off track). A little bit dated, but fun and, dare I say, instructive : ) .

Meditation Park Another film with Sandra Oh (why do I love her so much?), but she’s not the central character in this one. It’s about the Sandra Oh character’s mother, and it takes place in an insular Chinese community in Canada. As Maria Wang learns that her husband is having an affair with a much younger woman, she sorts out what her life means and learns that she has strength and resources beyond what she had ever knew. Charming, funny, and poignant. And, one of those rare films that centers on a senior woman.

Catch the Wind (subtitles) The amazing Sandrine Bonnaire stars in this film about a 45-year-old unattached factory supervisor, alone, with only a contentious relationship to her adult son. When her job is made redundant, she chooses to relocate as a low-paid factory worker in Morocco. How could this story possibly be uplifting Valentine’s Day fare? If you’re on your own, and wondering how you could possibly carve out a new life for yourself, I highly recommend this film.

Queen to Play (subtitles) And, it’s Sandrine Bonnaire again — this time as a shell-shocked wife, stuck in a dead marriage. As a hotel maid, she glimpses something different, something magical. And her fascination with the game of chess opens a whole new life. Think about what you’re curious about, or fascinated by, and how following that obsession might open new doors, and change everything.

Have a favorite film that helps restore your faith in men, or that tells the story of a woman taking her life back? Let me know in the comments!