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« Cinema's Greatest On-Screen and Off-Screen Couples | Main | Surprise. "Freeheld" Back On. Now With Julianne Moore! »
Thursday
Feb132014

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Six Times)

[Here's a reader/guest contributor to share something aimed at those of you who are single and not feeling the Valentine spirit! -Nathaniel]


My name is Adam and around the time that I began visiting The Film Experience, nearly a decade ago during my freshman year of high school, I had my first serious crush on a guy. While we were never technically official, I knew being rejected for a virtual profile of someone he’d never met was probably not the greatest bookend to a first romance. The years since then have allowed me to be the brunt of even more uncomfortable and sometimes excruciatingly painful rejections but I have also had the opportunity to willfully, and sometimes unwillfully, be the asshole initiator of a break up. As the cliché goes, breaking up is hard to do.

The movies have always been my go-to resource to help me pick up the pieces. The following scenes have helped me, and they might help you, to put that nearly empty pint of Haagen-Dazs back in the freezer, put on something other than sweatpants, and get back out there.

FRANCES HA


-Why would I be single?

-...With two cats.”

In our twenties, being asked to adopt two cats with fine curly hair and moving in together might as well be the same as an engagement. It’s fucking huge. As Frances first thinks of her allergies as an excuse, then her transient jubilance at the prospect of cohabitating, to her quick decline and even quicker increased happiness when talking about, or interrupting their conversation to talk on the phone with, her best friend, it’s clear France’s relationship with her best friend, running through Brooklyn on her own ragged sidewalk path to her dreams and figuring who exactly she is rightfully take precedence over focusing on a relationship.

TINY FURNITURE

-No Harm. No foul.

You said that, like, seven times tonight.”

We have all had our fair share of hook ups that, depending on the person, we foolishly think are something more than just two people fucking. While no words ending whatever future the two have of hooking up again or dating are spoken, Aura’s face expresses her realization that they will probably never see each other again as hides her behind a car when he thinks he sees a friend of his girlfriend, and then dismisses her by staring at his phone and texting the entire time as she confronts him about it and then asks him if they will see each other again soon. Faster than the faux chivalrous kiss on her cheek as he bolts, leaving her to catch up a cab home alone, Aura begins to comprehend that, no matter how much effort she puts in, some guys will always be douchebags.

VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA

-I want something different.

-What?

-I don’t know…not this.”

Sometimes we end relationships even if there are no obvious antagonistic forces present. They could be a great person who you still love, but inside, just like Cristina’s own restlessness and her thoughts overpowering her feelings, you know breaking up is what you need to do even though you have no idea what comes next or what you actually want. You’re only more certain on what you don’t want and, for right now, that’s good enough.

BLUE VALENTINE

I can’t stop. You can’t stop. I can’t stop. I don’t know what else to do.”

Love fuels hatred more than anything else in this world. Dean and Cindy, at once madly in love, have now reached their breaking point, one that has no coming back from. Adoration has turned to disgust. Fucking has become a reluctant, sickening obligation. “I love you”s have morphed into “I hate you”s. Love can be transient and what was great once may not always last. It’s the recognition and subsequent acceptance that’s the most difficult. And juxtaposed against their wedding? Brutal, heartbreaking, and real.

THE HANGOVER

-A guy should be able to do what he wants to do!

-THAT IS NOT HOW THIS WORKS!”

The tell off we all wish we said. There are going to be boyfriends and girlfriends out there who want to control everything you do and have you be what they want you to be. A backbone and clear sense of self is a necessity in any healthy relationship. And when someone attempts to erase and rewrite who you are? That’s when you stand on whatever makeshift soap box you can find and assert your independence. Especially if they claim to know you better than you do, or if they cheat on you with a bartender on a cruise ship.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR [spoilers ahead]


-I don’t know how to ask for forgiveness.

-There is none.”

There are cheaters and there are the cheated on. Both are human. Adele, in the midst of navigating her way through her first committed and serious romantic relationship, with a woman no less, acts out from her feelings of confusion, loneliness, disconnect and jealousy of her girlfriend Emma by having sex multiple times with a male coworker. Confronted, Adele pleads, apologizes, and the two physically lash out creating an irrevocable chasm of hurt between them that proves too painful to move past. During Adele’s tortuous sob filled walk away from the apartment she once shared with Emma, her emotions and feelings pour out of her as she loses all restraints and composure she once had allowing her to reflect on the consequences of her actions. As always, time passes and the two recover from the pain inflicted upon one another, and even though they don’t get back together, we hope Adele has grown and learned from what she has done to discover who she is and who she wants to be with in the future.

What are your favorite breakup scenes in the movies?

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Reader Comments (15)

I have a soft spot for Zooey Deschanel telling Joseph Gordon-Levitt why he wasn't the one in 500 Days of Summer as well as Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman scratching Michael Keaton's Batman on the cheek, switching so effortlessly between unstable wistful romantic to dangerous murderous realist (relatively speaking). My favorite though would have to be Clementine and Joel's breakup in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for how ugly it gets between the drunken, irresponsible Clementine and the resentful, bitter Joel.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

flickah -- ooh, that's a great one in (500) days of summer.

adam -- i love the Frances Ha breakup scene just because it's so beautifully scripted and played by Greta Gerwig like she's so ready to be out of it that she doesn't even process that she's the one dumping him and not the other way around.

the scene in Blue is is just brutal.

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Love the Frances Ha and Tiny Furniture mentions. Both never feel telegraphed that they have to go there even if both films lay on the awkwardness.

I am into the less conventional 'break-up' scenes. They're not really classic break-up scenes but a mix of realism and also heightened.

It's not a break-up but it is heartbreaking when Josh Hamilton wants to follow Olivia d'Abo to Prague and wants to get on the quickest plane over there to get her back. But he forgets his passport. The pain on his face. Jessica Hecht's minor character as the flight attendant who realizes how this hurts him is like an audience stand-in.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg when they meet again at the end. Tears. Ugly crying. So powerful. They've accepted their new lives but when Guy says he does not want to see his daughter, the water works come out.

Jules et Jim. The games end. Oh, how they end.

Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson in Drinking Buddies finally address their unwritten romance. Their make-up at the end is a small victory but I'm left hoping they can work things out when the credits end.

Knives and Scott breaking up both times. One in a comically shattering way and the other on much more amicable terms in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Louise Lasser owning Woody Allen's character in Bananas with grade-A shade.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Thanks for a great, fun read!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

There's a scene in Paul Cox's Cactus where Isabelle Huppert's character writes a letter to her husband in which she divorces him. The scene is done in voiceover, and at the end, Huppert says "Don't forget that we loved one another." This husband is entirely absent from the film, but every time I watch or even think of that scene, or even, really, think of that last sentence, I'm completely gutted. I have the honour of working a 16 hour shift tomorrow, and I think I'm deliberately going to think of sad breakup scenes to tear up to, scaring away customers in the process.

Oh, and that first paragraph perfectly captures the sadness, intensity, and humour of first loves. Lovely!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Natalie Portman & Jude Law in Closer - Natalie Portman was so great in that scene!

I'm not sure if it counts as a break up but the scene between Jared Leto & Jennifer Connelly in Reqiuem for a Dream when Harry returns home after failing to score drugs. I think they only speak on the phone after that? I love the way Connelly spits out ''I don't give a shit!! You fucking loser!''

Again I'm not sure if it counts given the ambiguous ending but I thought Julia Louis Dreyfuss was so good in the break-up scene in 'Enough Said'

And Ben Foster & Melissa Sagemiller in 'Get Over It' if only for 'Love Will Keep Us Together' number. Plus single Ben Foster.... Watch out Robin Wright!

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

I mean the first Jude Law & Natalie Portman :) - lots of break ups in that movie!

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

choog -- right. and all of them memorable. Its interesting to me that Closer had such a weirdly cold response when it premiered but people still talk about it often. The same can't be said of some of its more successful more embraced contemporaries. So i guess none of us really broke up with it ;)

February 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Choog & Nathaniel - funny enough I was THIS close to including a scene from Closer but I was gonna go for the scene when Clive kicks Julia out of their apartment when she admits to having sex with Jude. That line "It tastes like you but sweeter" would make one hell of a post title haha still one of my favorite movies and definitely holds up all these years later.

CMG - I've never actually seen Bananas(I know, i know, I beat myself up everyday for it) but I've seen that scene and I convulse in a laughing fit every time :P

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Also, the coward message left in Carmen Maura's answering machine that triggers the whole plot of Women on the Verge...

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Some uncomfortable memories brought up by this post... that scene in Frances Ha is so freaking perfect.

Closer probably has the most memorable break-up scenes ever, each one different and landing with such force. Brilliant script.

(500) Days of Summer and Eternal Sunshine always shatter me. The other one that always gets me is In The Mood for Love when Tony Leung leaves for Thailand. It's not really a break-up, but it sure as hell feels like one.

The other biggie is Nights of Cabiria/Sweet Charity, but mostly for how our heroine picks herself up afterwards. Beautiful.

I'm kind of surprised no one has mentioned the opening scene of The Social Network yet. "Dating you is like dating a stair-master." "It'll be because you're an asshole." So freaking quotable.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Sorry but the break up scene in The Social Network is the absolute best of the best.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Jen & Denny - The Social Network's opening break up scene, Brilliant and iconic. You're absolutely right.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Diane and Camilla in Mulholland Dr. "No fucking way! It's not gonna be. It's not easy for me!"

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterP

"I wish i knew how to quit you!" Hello! Anyone?

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

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