Mandatory Movies: What To Watch When You’re Tempted To Text Your Ex
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Heartbreak is a bitch. If you were truly in love, it’s excruciating (if not downright impossible) to let go. We get it. But before you do something regrettable, like text your ex for make-up sex, watch these Mandatory Movies. They just might make you realize that breakups happen for a reason – and that reason usually involves being completely incompatible with one another.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results. Instead of making yourself crazy by attempting a reunion with your ex, witness fictitious people doing so (and failing, hard) from the safety of your screen.
'Manchester by the Sea'
Lee (Casey Affleck) is so in love with his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) that even when she’s sick, he finds her irresistibly sexy. Then unspeakable tragedy strikes and their marriage is ripped apart. When their paths cross years later at a funeral, she’s remarried and pregnant while he’s a sad sack janitor living in a basement. Their post-mortem (seen in this GIF) is the most heartbreaking thing you’ve ever seen on screen, and so real you just might be cured of following up on exes forever.
In this intimate film festival favorite, Brit Anna (Felicity Jones) falls in love with Jacob (Anton Yelchin) while attending college in Los Angeles. After graduation, immigration issues force them apart. Since he’s unwilling to move to London, they attempt a long-distance relationship, which starts to feel more like a cycle of breakups and reunions than committed love. Let their tortuous, drawn-out drama make you feel better about how quickly your last relationship collapsed. Sometimes it’s better to let it die, and quick.
Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) seem like they were made for each other, but several years in, their marriage is on life support. The narrative switches from their adorably smitten past to their bitterly angry present, as if searching for a reason that will explain what happened to the once blissfully happy couple. As the big secret of their relationship is revealed (hint: it involves her hot-headed ex), we come to see that sometimes, even love isn’t enough to keep soulmates together.
Amanda (Sarah Paulson) and Jim (Mark Duplass) run into each other in the small California town where they were high school sweethearts 20 years before. A catch-up chat leads to an invitation back to his (deceased mom’s) place, where they relive their glory days and grieve what they lost. Misery loves company, but reminiscing about the past with your ex (especially when one of you is married) is playing with fire.
'Some Velvet Morning'
After four years apart, Fred (Stanley Tucci) appears on the doorstep of his former lover, Velvet (Alice Eve), with a suitcase and a declaration that he’s left his wife. Sounds like a happy ending, right? Well, not in the hands of writer/director Neil LaBute, who slowly, sexily reveals that nothing is as simple as it seems and that everyone is more awful than you can even imagine.
If you can get past the statutory rape, you might find that Lolita is a painfully profound love story. Scholar Humbert Humbert (Jeremy Irons) was devastated by the death of his girlfriend in his youth and has forever since been enchanted by “nymphets.” When he arrives in a small town to teach, fate drops him in the same house as the precocious 13-year-old Dolores (Dominique Swain), and he’s unable to resist his urges. While at first a seemingly willing participant (as much as a minor can be) in the relationship, Lolita’s loyalties soon shift and she escapes. Humbert desperately tries to hunt her down, and when he finally finds her, she’s all grown up, but he still begs to rekindle their twisted affair. This movie will remind you how deranged obsessive love can make you and that it’s never, ever a good idea to chase down someone who dumped you.
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
What if you could erase every memory of your ex? All your problems would be solved, right? Wrong. So discovers Joel (Jim Carrey) as he undergoes the same memory erasure procedure that his ex-girlfriend, Clementine (Kate Winslet) did. The threat of losing all those loving images in his mind makes him realize that any memory of her, good or bad, is worth holding onto. After all, if we didn’t remember how cruel our exes were, how would we avoid falling for their charms again and again?
'500 Days of Summer'
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) are the kind of couple you wish you and your ex could’ve been. Or maybe not, given that she side-swipes him with a breakup that he spends the whole film trying to deconstruct. By the final frame, when they reunite, she’s moved on and he realizes how one-sided the whole relationship was. Is love reality…or just a matter of perception? Yes.
After PR rep Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) gets fired, she rushes for the train to get home and cry on her boyfriend Gerry’s (John Lynch) shoulder. In one scenario, she catches the train…and finds Gerry in bed with his ex. In another scenario, she misses the train…and drives herself crazy for months with suspicion that Gerry is cheating. The funny-‘cause-it’s-true film toggles back and forth between the two disparate paths Helen’s life might’ve taken, though both eventually lead to James (John Hannah), who brings much-needed sincerity and comic relief to the story. The moral? Your destiny will find you one way or another. Don’t force it.
'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'
Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) thinks a Hawaiian vacation is just what he needs to get over his ex-girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). Trouble is, she’s staying at the same resort…with her new boyfriend. While many people fantasize about having a post-breakup heart-to-heart to find out exactly what went wrong, this movie proves that you probably don’t want to know. It just might turn out that the reason you got dumped is ‘cause you didn’t deserve her in the first place.