We all need a good cry and there’s no shame in admitting that. One of the best ways to get a cathartic boo-hoo session is to watch sad romantic movies. You might be going through a breakup or just a particularly lonesome point and a tearjerker can provide some potent medicine for a weary heart. And, it is a form of it! According to a study, sad romantic movies actually boost endorphins (a chemical that makes us happy) in the brain. Thankfully, there is no shortage of sad romantic movies out there that have brought countless audience members to tears through the years.
We set out to find the films most likely to make you cry and we discovered a mix of classic romance movies and newer films that are destined for classic status. You will find stories of unrequited love, marriages disintegrating, tales of deception, love in the face of adversity, and so much more in the sad romantic movies on this list. Fun stuff, right? We did our best to include films that range from arthouse fare to massive blockbusters. There should be a sad romantic movie on this list for every taste! Now, grab some tissues, and let’s talk melancholia!
Watch These Sad Romantic Movies for a Good Cry!
Keira Knightley delivers a career’s best performance in this period drama that explores how one lie can change the course of people’s lives entirely. Moral of the story: don’t tell lies especially on the cusp of a World War! It’s one of the sad romantic movies that’s guaranteed to make you cry.
As sensory an experience as an emotional one, Todd Haynes‘ Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara is one of the most meticulously put together period films made in recent memory. From the costumes to the sets, to the old cars, to the longing looks, to the creamed spinach, this movie has all you want in a sad romantic movie set in 1950s New York.
If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
One of the many Barry Jenkins projects worth your time, If Beale Street Could Talk is a film adaptation of a work by James Baldwin. The movie tells the story of a woman who becomes pregnant and must fight for her lover and childhood friend who has been accused of a crime. The performances and cinematography will take your breath away.
The Notebook (2004)
Get yourself a box of tissues because you won’t be able to keep your eyes dry in The Notebook. In the film, a poor young man falls for a rich woman and they begin an affair. Social differences come between them but will their love overcome them? Find out by giving one of the most tear-jerking sad romantic movies on this list a try.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
If you needed proof (we doubt you do) that a female director should be at the helm of a lesbian romantic drama, just feast your eyes on Céline Sciamma‘s Portrait of a Lady on Fire. A film that’s masterfully composed, that it’s utterly flawless and teeming with tension. It is a period piece that feels somehow stuck in a time capsule but also progressive in its outlook.
Michael Haneke is one of the most celebrated directors of all time. In his artful film Amour, he explores how love evolves as we age into our final stage of life and ultimately our relationships. Beautiful, poignant, and meditative this French-language movie will break your heart in the best way possible. Unlike the other sad romantic movies on this list, the love’s already locked in from the start. We learn, however, that it changes over time as much as any person does.
Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Peach jokes aside, Call Me by Your Name is one of the most touching movies about first love ever made. Luca Guadagnino the movie that finds a 17-year-old student who falls head over heels for his father’s research assistant as they all vacation in Italy. You can cut the romantic tension with a knife for much of the movie. It’s all fun when the two lovers take a jaunt through Rome but after their trip ends so too does that fleeting feeling of young love. If you’re not crying with Timothée Chalamet by the end of this one, do you even have a heart?
Blue Valentine (2010)
One of the most brutal sad romantic movies ever made, Blue Valentine will test your endurance and fortitude. If you’re in a relationship, you might want to skip this one with your partner as it is destined to lead to some uncomfortable conversations about relationships and how they can disintegrate little by little until there’s no love left. As with everything she’s in Michelle Williams is a standout in this heavy-hitting drama.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Daniel Day-Lewis plays an obsessive dressmaker who begrudgingly falls in love with a young woman named Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, who tests his ability to divorce himself from his career in the fashion industry of 1950s London. You’ll want to slap Day-Lewis on the back of the head and tell him to “get a grip!” before this romance movie comes to a morbidly satisfying conclusion.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
As funny as it is heartbreaking, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of a couple who decide to have their memories erased after their relationship falls apart. This is one of the sad romantic movies on this list that will melt your ice-cold heart before it shatters it.
The Way We Were (1973)
The Way We Were tells finds Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford as acquaintances, friends, best friends, lovers, and ultimately adversaries through the decades that lead up to WWII and immediately follow it. The film mines a relationship in which friendship and attraction cannot overcome overarching societal and political beliefs. It’s also got an amazing soundtrack!
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
A musical with plenty of heart, Moulin Rouge is a weird one as it uses mashups of various pop songs to tell the story. Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor are the lovers in this movie but will a jealous duke keep them from being together? It’s one of the sad romantic movies that starts out all fun and games but ends in a grim place.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Two rugged cowboys fall in love while tending to a herd of sheep and embark on, what will become, a lifetime of wanting to return to the same mountain they fell in love on. In this challenging movie of queer in love in a time of hate, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger are at the top of their games. It’s one of the most unrelenting sad romantic movies on this list.
Based on the critically acclaimed play of the same name, Bent tells the story of a gay Jewish man, Max (Clive Owen) who is sent to a concentration camp under the Nazi regime. There, he meets Horst, another gay man, and they must work their complex feelings for one another while shouldering the unimaginable weight of internment.
45 Years (2015)
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star in 45 Years, one of the sad romantic movies about aging love. In the film, they play a couple who are on the eve of their 45th wedding anniversary celebration. They receive some unexpected news that plunges the relationship they share into uncharted territory. This movie is excellently acted with both Rampling and Courtenay picking up awards at many film festivals for their performances. Moral of the story: don’t take your relationship for granted and always be prepared for it to change.
The Bodyguard (1992)
If you have not cried while belting “I Will Always Love You,” have you even lived a life? If you’ve yet to embrace this practice, you likely have never seen The Bodyguard a film that finds Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner as a pop star and a bodyguard who begin an ill-fated affair. We’re not suggesting that this movie is a masterpiece (it’s far, far from it) but it is one of the sad romantic movies that always makes us cry.
Keep Scrolling For Even More Sad Romantic Movies!
West Side Story (1961)
One of the oldest sad romantic movies on this list, West Side Story tells the story of two star-crossed lovers in this updated, musical retelling of Romeo & Juliet. The movie is getting the Steven Spielberg remake that’s set for release later this year but if you have not seen the original, do yourself a favor and watch this classic.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
You’ll want to set aside a sizeable chunk of time to get through this three-hour-long epic but it’s well worth it. Doctor Zhivago is set during the Russian Revolution of the 1920s at a time when affairs with the wrong people could prove fatal. Yuri plays the doctor who fights back his desire for Lara for years. Both he and Lara marry other people but through the years the flame of desire never fully goes out. If you love sweeping, romantic sad movies, this film would be the textbook definition of one.
The Theory of Everything (2014)
One of the few sad romantic movies that doubles as a biopic, The Theory of Everything tells the story of the late physicist, Stephen Hawking‘s life and love with his partner Jane Wilde. The movie begins with the pair meeting at Cambridge and ultimately learning of Hawking’s motor neuron disease. Both defy the odds and make breakthrough discoveries in their perspective fields. And, yes, this is a romantic movie even if the description of the plot does not sound like it!
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
Adèle’s life is changed forever after she meets Emma, a young woman with blue hair. She learns to be assertive and in complete ownership of her womanhood through the relationship they embark on together. It’s an exploration of sexuality that you have likely never seen before. We warn those that are fussy about sex scenes that this movie did receive an NC-17 rating as the sexy times in it, which are very much the point of the film, might be too much for younger viewers.
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
One of Italy’s most celebrated filmmakers, Federico Fellini, gets a good deal of attention for his films 8 1/2 & La Dolce Vita but his most intimate work, Nights of Cabiria, proves the most touching. The film follows a prostitute in Rome who is looking for love but only finds heartache. This gorgeous film is vibrating with life, music, and romance – all the things that Cabiria (played brilliantly by Giuletta Masina) searches for but never obtains. Although she thinks she’s found Mr. Right, the situation quickly changes at the thrilling climax of this absolute cinematic masterpiece.
The Piano Teacher (2001)
There is “aw, shucks” sad and then there’s “aw, that’s disturbing” sad. The Piano Teacher falls into the latter category as it is a romance movie but it plays almost like horror or psychological thriller. The film follows Erika Kohut (played by the genius Isabelle Huppert) an esteemed piano teacher who begins an affair with a handsome student who courts her. However, the romance deteriorates as Erika reveals herself to be a masochist with some issues. This is another film by auteur Michael Haneke (Amour) and it does not disappoint!
Revolutionary Road (2008)
Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet sure do love to break our hearts. The pair are in two sad romantic movies on this list, the first being 2008’s Revolutionary Road. The movie is set in the 1950s and mines the realities of the “American Dream” and pastoral, suburban domesticity. Winslet and DiCaprio play a married couple who really go through it! If you like the idea of watching a romance as it starts and then slowly atrophies, this is the one for you!
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013)
Crime, tragedy, romance, and plenty of drama are what you will find in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints which was met with critical acclaim after it played at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. The movie follows an outlaw who escapes prison to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has yet to meet. It’s a real tearjerker that somehow takes a sympathetic point of view for its characters who are criminals.
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Take a voyage on a fated ocean liner in James Cameron‘s biggest hit of the 1990s, Titanic. We find an aristocrat named Rose who falls for a poor artist while aboard a giant boat. The romance is great until that big piece of ice gets in the way. This is one of the sad romantic movies that will never let go.
There you go! What did you think of these sad romantic movies? We’re certain they are some of the best romances ever put to film! No matter the reason why we all need a good ugly cry as there is nothing better than a cathartic release that a movie can deliver. Purge your body of all the tears you’ve been fighting back recently with these highly emotional and potent sad romantic movies. Now, go grab a box of tissues and hit play.
- 1 Watch These Sad Romantic Movies for a Good Cry!
- 1.1 Atonement (2007)
- 1.2 Carol (2015)
- 1.3 If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
- 1.4 The Notebook (2004)
- 1.5 Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
- 1.6 Amour (2012)
- 1.7 Call Me by Your Name (2017)
- 1.8 Blue Valentine (2010)
- 1.9 Phantom Thread (2017)
- 1.10 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- 1.11 The Way We Were (1973)
- 1.12 Moulin Rouge! (2001)
- 1.13 Brokeback Mountain (2005)
- 1.14 Bent (1997)
- 1.15 45 Years (2015)
- 1.16 The Bodyguard (1992)
- 2 Keep Scrolling For Even More Sad Romantic Movies!
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