20 Movies to Help Survive Going Through a Divorce

Cafe Mom
20 Movies to Help Survive Going Through a Divorce
Damarys Ocaña Perez
Jan 9, 2020

Bette Midler - First Wive's Club

There’s no special time in someone’s life quite like divorce … said no one ever (Right?!) Dissolving a marriage is at best a very sad time, and at worst, a harrowing experience that we need a tremendous amount of self-reflection and help get through it — from family, friends, and great movies.

We go to movies for everything else — to laugh, to learn something new about a real-life figure, to be scared out of our wits — so, naturally, we depend on them to get us through tough times. Although when we’re feeling down, any comedy or uplifting story can help us forget the pain for a couple of hours, there are plenty of movies that someone going through a divorce can relate to on a whole other level.

We’re not necessarily talking about heavy breakup dramas that end on a massive down note, or anxiety-producing thrillers about psychopathic exes who will only stop tormenting a fleeing ex when she is forced to end him. No, we’re talking about the stories that take a lighter or an ultimately uplifting look at women going through some serious stuff but handling it like a boss — even if that means making some petty moves before finding enlightenment and moving on. 

These movies tackle it all: Cheating husbands, mediocre husbands, overbearing husbands, having an affair with an ex, dealing with family members who don’t approve of a woman’s choices, getting together with girlfriends to vent. They delve into stories where the ladies are the bad guys in the marriage. 

Naturally, epic and hilarious revenge takes center stage: The draining of bank accounts feature prominently, as well as midnight trashing of exes’ houses, and bonfires built from a cheater’s entire wardrobe and car. Some of the movies even tackle heavy topics, like domestic violence, drug use, and depression, but they do it in a way that is empowering to anyone watching. 

Those are the ones we want to see when we’re trying to patch together a way forward.

Watching divorce flicks can be cathartic in a way that doesn’t always happen in real life when we’re busy fighting for custody of the kids, fending the legal maneuverings of a particularly nasty ex, or ironing out details about who gets to keep what. They may not always be realistic, but they are inspiring, and often, wryly funny. Here’s a list of 20 must-see movies about divorce guaranteed to make us laugh, do better, or at the very least, show us the, ahem, restorative powers of a post-divorce Italian lover.

  1. ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ (2003)Diane Lane and Raoul Bova in Under the Tuscan SunFranco Biciocchi/Buena Vista PicturesThe divorce movie par excellence, Under the Tuscan Sun stars Diane Lane as a woman whose cheater of a husband not only leaves her, but gets the couple’s house and moves in his pregnant mistress. She goes to Italy on a whim, buys an entire dilapidated villa, and has a torrid affair with a hot, young Italian dude (shocking fact: it doesn’t last). Lane’s character also fixes the house and takes in an orphaned teenage Polish immigrant and her pregnant friend, whose partner has left her, creating an unexpected family. (Whew!) That’s A LOT of best-case-scenario fantasy, but we’re here for it.
  2. ‘Erin Brockovich’ (2000)Julia Roberts in Erin BrockovichErin Brockovich is not a tale about divorce, it’s a story about the strength and ingenuity that many divorced women are forced to summon up when their backs are against the wall. Best of all, it’s a true story. Erin was a charmingly brash, gutsy single mom of three who forced her lawyer to hire her so she could support her kids after she lost her car-crash lawsuit case. Despite having no law degree, she ended up uncovering a gas company’s illegal dumping of cancer-causing chemicals beneath a small town and helped bring the victims millions in damages. And yes, Erin made more than enough to feed her kids … way more.

    ‘It’s Complicated’ (2009)Alec Baldwin and Meryl Streep in It's ComplicatedDivorces can be messy, especially if both parties are still mightily attracted to each other. A decade after their divorce, exes Jane and Jake (Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin) are having an affair behind their grown kids’ backs, and that of his much younger wife’s. Meanwhile, Jane starts seeing a new man (Steve Martin), but he retreats when he realizes what’s going on. Oh, and the kids are not happy either — they’re still reeling from the divorce. Yup, moving forward from a divorce can take longer than anyone expects, and that’s totally understandable.  
    • ‘Bad Moms’ (2016)Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn in Bad MomsWhat’s a woman to do when she finds out her weasel of a husband has been cheating with a webcam chick? Kick him to the curb, then gather the girls and go on an all-night bender — that’s what. This hit movie has an all-star female cast — including Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Christina Applegate — that mines comedy gold out of the very specific condition of being an unappreciated, overworked mom who’s ready for some liberation. Here’s to going bad!

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2 thoughts on “20 Movies to Help Survive Going Through a Divorce

  1. I keep forgetting to say that i really love the Bootleg Betty site. Thanks for doing it all these years. Shanti Juds

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