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7 Most heartbreaking rom-com movie endings

BY Annie Dabb

6th Sep 2023 Film & TV

4 min read

7 Most heartbreaking rom-com movie endings
You're in bed, curtains drawn, duvet tucked up around you, a box of tissues on the quilt next to you and a hot mug of tea that's bigger than your head cradled in your hands, what else would you be watching other than a heartbreaking rom-com?! Here are seven of the most tragic rom-coms that will remind you what's to love about love, why it's so painful when we lose it, and why you should be grateful for the people in your life 
Don't get me wrong, there is something indescribably cosy and comforting about a rom-com where the guy gets the girl and everything works out for the better, exactly like you knew it would from the very beginning. But sometimes, you might just want a good, cathartic cry over someone else's on-screen fictional heartbreak.
In fact, it's been scientifically proven that people who watch sad films which trigger an emotional response are likely to be happier. This is because crying over someone else's sad situation allows us to analyse our own personal lives in order to appreciate them more. Moreover, the catharsis you release from a good ol' sob sesh serves as an antidote to the stress chemicals our bodies produce during the course of the film. 
In which case, sob on soldiers, and make sure you keep a box of tissues close by, as these are some real tear jerkers

1. Blue Valentine 

Blue Valentine, starring Ryan Gosling as Dean, and Michelle Williams as Cindy, explores the breakdown of a relationship that is long past its best days. Interspersing the troubling present-day scenes of domestic arguments and frustrated miscommunication with snapshots into the couple's happy, fateful beginning, this film makes it very apparent that just because you can build a life with your Valentine, that doesn't mean it will last forever. 

2. One Day 

For 20 years, two best friends played by Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) meet up on the July 15 every year to hear about each other's lives, how they've ended up in the wrong relationships with the wrong people (although they may not know it yet), and their plans for the future.
Eventually, much to the relief of antagonised viewers, they get it right and end up together, only for it to end in a tragedy beyond their control. This film is about not just losing the love of your life, but also your life-long best friend. If the scene of Jim Sturgess sobbing on a staircase isn't enough to bring a tear to your eye, I don't know what will. 

3. La La Land 

Featuring Ryan Gosling, the connoisseur of heartbreak, once more, La La Land is a jazz musical set in Los Angeles which follows the love story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emily Blunt), as they both try and achieve their dreams.
Although they both end up successful, and with happy endings of sorts, the end of the film suggests how their lives could have been had they stayed together. The perfect bittersweet watch to reminisce about the one who could have been the one, once upon a time.  
Keen rom-com fanatics might recognise this particular actor pairing from feel-good film Crazy Stupid Love, in which they re-enact the famous Dirty Dancing lift. If so, you'll know that their on-screen chemistry makes for a dazzling watch—it also might be a good idea to keep this film on standby in case you need cheering up after La La Land! 

4. Atonement 

Based on the novel by Ian McEwan, Atonement is a tragic film for many reasons, not least because of its setting during the Second World War. Told from the perspective of Briony (Saorise Ronan), a lie she tells out of jealousy tears apart young lovers Cecilia Tallis (Keira Knightley) and Robbie Turner (James McAvoy).
Consequently, the latter has to serve in the army as an alternative to imprisonment, while Cecilia becomes a nurse. Although when Robbie is taken away Cecilia promises that she'll wait for him, and signs all of her letters to him the same way. The end of the film reveals that the scene in which viewers see the two lovers reunited later in life is actually Briony's own fabrication in order to ease her own guilt

5. The Fault in Our Stars 

One of the most nostalgic films on this list, The Fault in Our Stars (based on the novel by John Green) follows the love story of teenagers Hazel Grace (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) who meet in a cancer support group. From the beginning you know it can't possibly end well.
Augustus manages to win Hazel over with pompous and poorly-executed, albeit well-intentioned, metaphors like putting a cigarette in his mouth but never lighting it, so that it doesn't have the power to kill him (although he's still funding the tobacco industry). However, ultimately their story ends in heartbreak. It's cheesy and full of clichés—and also a trip to Europe—but it definitely makes you thankful for your health and the people in your life. 

6. Babyteeth 

Babyteeth is based on a play by Rita Kalnejais (who also wrote the screenplay). Milla, (Eliza Scanlen) a young, terminally ill teenage girl begins a romance with a small-time older drug dealer called Moses (Toby Wallace), whom her middle-class parents disapprove of. Despite Moses' troubling behaviour, (or maybe because of it) Milla falls in love with him and through their relationship is able to rediscover some of the beauty in life. 
Although this film is centred around Moses and Milla's romance, the thing that had me blubbering away by the end was the father-daughter relationship between Milla and her dad. In a scene on the beach, she tells him without words how difficult her life is. His capability to understand his daughter's sadness is absolutely heartbreaking, and possibly some of the best and most emotionally rousing parenting depicted on screen. 

7. Me Before You 

Adapted for the screen by Jojo Moyes who wrote the novel of the same name, Me Before You is about the blossoming romantic relationship between young and quirky Lou Clark (Emilia Clarke) and the man she is hired to care for, Will Traynor (Sam Clafin). Will has been left paralysed in a wheelchair following a motorcycle accident a few years before and wants to end his life through euthanasia. 
Although both gain new insights into life through their love for one another, Will becoming less cynical and Lou becoming less afraid of following her dreams, Will still wants to go ahead with the procedure. The final scene sees Lou at a cafe in Paris, reading a letter from Will in which he urges her to "live well". This film is at once full of hope for the future and almost unbearably compassionate for people's suffering. 
Banner credit: KristinaJovanovic
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