Heartbreak. It happens and it is horrible. If it is happening to you right now: I am sorry. Can I offer you a hug/a high five/a consoling look/a distracting dance?
Sometimes there comes a time when people find themselves suddenly single. Or, sometimes people find themselves single for a very long time (and just want somebody to give them some credit for being very good people – you are good people. I see you. Hello).
If you're feeling a bit lost about being single, or if you want to watch some movies that make you feel good about your all-by-myself lifestyle, then I have a list for you (it's rather good, I think). Please enjoy this set of five movies (but please remember there are plenty more):
Thelma and Louise
In 2011, The Atlantic called Thelma and Louise "the last great movie about women" and they're not even lying a tiny bit. Thelma and Louise is a movie about friendship, escape, self-discovery and self-realisation. It's about sticking it to the man – for Thelma, her husband, a massive dickhead who controls her life, for Louise, the boredom and drudgery of waitressing, while waiting around for her absent musician boyfriend, Jimmy. More than this, though, Thelma and Louise is about discovering the world again on your own terms. It's about living dangerously, refusing to settle and refusing go back to an oppressive and unfulfilling old life. It's the kind of message you might need to hear when you're nursing a broken heart (although, maybe, just to be safe, keep your crime spree to a minimum).
The Shop Around the Corner
In The Shop Around the Corner, James Stewart and Margaret O'Sullivan play antagonistic co-workers in a Budapest leather goods store, run by its owner, Mr Matuschek (Frank Morgan, who you might know as the Wizard of Oz). Both Alfred (Stewart) and Klara (O'Sullivan) are in love with someone whom they only know through the perfect letters they write to one another, sharing their deepest thoughts and something like an idealised version of themselves. In the more ordinary life within the store, Klara and Alfred find themselves clumsily and callously at odds with one another. Ernst Lubitsch was rightly celebrated as one of Hollywood's greatest directors – if not just the greatest – on the back of comedies like this. It's filled with laughter, lightness, and speed. And within its very ordinary setting, it is soaked in pain, hurt, the threat of failed love. It's just the right kind of reminder of what love is. The famed movie critic Pauline Kael described The Shop Around the Corner as a film "as close to perfection as a movie made by mortals is ever likely to be". This is what real love looks like, my friends. And it is beautiful.
Romy & Michele's High School Reunion
Romy and Michele are some of my favourite people, so if they can't cheer you up and convince you about the wonders of singledom, then I'm not sure if there's anything more that can be done (a big dose of Disney-Pixar, maybe? Some kind of immersion in a clown bath?). Romy and Michele's High School Reunion has several very awesome messages: 1. Your best friend will always dance with you; 2. Some people are just horrible (so who cares if they don't like you); 3. Never pretend that you invented Post-Its; and 4. The life you dreamed up for yourself might not be as good as the life that you have. So dance that interpretive dance, my friend. Dance like Cyndi Lauper is playing, everybody is watching and there's a helicopter waiting outside for you.
I have included this after having a long, hard think about what might be the least romantic movie of all time. I think it might be Fatal Attraction. Or it might be The Shining. Or maybe you should watch both Fatal Attraction and The Shining just to make sure all your romantic feelings are frightened away for good (OK, well, for at least two hours). Fatal Attraction is gross. Everybody in it is gross. Michael Douglas is the worst. Glenn Close is the worst. Romance is dead. If you're not feeling bad about the film's treatment of human relationships, it's also a fascinating case study of gender and sexual politics. Consider this: the femme fatale, Alex (Glenn Close), has a name that could also belong to a man, commands a highly paid, executive salary, is amazingly self-confident, forthright and powerful, and won't take "no" for an answer. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? WHAT IS IT TRYING TO SAY? IS THIS A MOVIE ABOUT LETTING MEN EXPERIENCE THE UNWANTED ADVANCES/TERROR THAT WOMEN HAVE TO PUT UP WITH ALL THE TIME? (Maybe think about this instead of how single you are, or how sad you are about your breakup).
I am going to be honest: there comes a time in every woman's life when only cathartic violence will do (fictional violence, obviously, I am not a monster). Kill Bill is a revenge fantasy, set against the backdrop of a terrible breakup: The Bride (Uma Thurman) tried to make a clean break from her old life and her old love, Bill, but he wasn't having any of it. After being left for dead on her wedding day, and, remaining comatose for four years, one day The Bride wakes up and swears revenge on everyone who wronged her. The results are exhilarating, spectacular, bloody but also deeply personal (and kind of sad). The Bride, in her own way, is a role model for us all.