I've never done a divorce movie list, and I'm kind of not thrilled about other lists I've seen . . . so it's about time to share a few girl power movies about starting over and/or waking up from a life that's become a bad dream.
Let's start with a few starting-over films that were written and directed by women:
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) There's no divorce in this movie, but there is a young woman who boxed herself into a suburban lifestyle too soon, pursues a random fascination with a different lifestyle, and changes everything in the process. The divorce will come after the credits roll. I also love this movie because it's about what I consider regular people: suburban middle-class and scruffy bohemians. Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, and Aidan Quinn.
Something's Gotta Give (2003) I can't imagine that there's any over-40 woman who hasn't seen this film, but it's one of my favorites, and grows on me the older I get. If you're a single woman of a certain age, you'll recognize the Jack Nicholson character as someone you've encountered on innumerable dates, and from innumerable online dating profiles (you know, the ones where old, paunchy guys photograph themselves on speedboats and next to sports cars). Perfect solo weekend viewing -- reminding yourself why enjoying a weekend pursuing your interests at home can be way more rewarding than a coffee date (or, worse, dinner) with that silver, not-so-foxy old fox. Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
Enough Said (2013) Years ago, when I was offering weekend-at-home movie picks on this blog, I wrote a whole blog post about this film. A massage therapist, divorced mom begins dating a regular guy, a self-described "slob" who is actually a person at her own level, and, with this, she immediately begins to find fault. Should she settle for him? Should she deserve better? Intruigued? Watch and find out what happens. James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Now, for a few girl power films written and directed by men (but feel like they were channeled by a female muse):
An Unmarried Woman (1978) If you only watch one of my six picks, make it this one. I know . . . 1978 . . . how relevant could it possibly be? Except for the excellent 1970s fashions and silly disco music, this could have been made today. I love this woman. She figures out what she wants, on a day-to-day basis, and doesn't get sucked into anyone else's world. An inspiring filmic role model for navigating the divorce year. Bonuses: Vintage New York, the sexy Alan Bates as love-interest, and if you're a fan of Gilmore Girls, check out Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore) as one of the lead's gal pals. Jill Clayburgh and Alan Bates.
Educating Rita (1983) As I've sought out movies about divorce over the past ten years, it's surprising that most of them feature upper-middle-class people, living lifestyles that most of us don't even dare to dream of. Here's one about a working-class girl who feels the walls closing in and wants a bigger life. And, I also love that there's no Prince Charming or relationship-centered happy ending. Julie Walters and Michael Caine.
Begin Again (2013) The most nuanced separation/betrayal/breakup film among these picks. The story is structured around some of the most beautiful songs about loneliness and despair ever. A girl who gives away too much to the wrong person, but knows what's she's doing and stays true to herself. Deep, a little tangled, and full of quirky hope. Bonus: Keira Knightley sings. Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and the adorable James Corden.
Where to view these attitude-shifting divorce slash breakup films:
All of my women-directed picks are available for streaming on Amazon. As of this writing, An Unmarried Women and Begin Again are streaming on Netflix; Educating Rita is available on Putlocker and other hosted file sites.
Do you have a favorite divorce- or breakup-related film that doesn't involve rich, white Californians or similarly privileged New Yorkers? Films with a more diverse cast of characters, while staying free from ethnic stereotypes? I would love to hear about and share your recommendations. Please tell me about it in the comments!