When you watch a romance movie, you never truly know if it will have a happy ending or end with heartbreak. Someone on a popular online forum asked fellow movie lovers for recommendations of romance films with bittersweet endings. Here are 15 great options.
1. Lost in Translation (2003)
On separate business trips to Japan, an unhappy newlywed and an old actor meet serendipitously one night and form a strong bond. But their relationship isn’t built to last beyond their one romantic trip to Tokyo.
2. Before Sunrise (1995)
After two people meet in a chance encounter on a train to Vienna, they feel an intense connection and spend the night wandering Vienna’s beautiful streets together before the man must fly back to the U.S. in the morning. But can the two bear to part ways when the time comes?
3. La La Land (2016)
When a man and a woman connect over their shared desire to pursue their passions, success tears their once-happy relationship apart. The end of this romantic musical will leave you teary-eyed.
4. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
After a greeting card writer’s girlfriend suddenly dumps him without explanation, the man reflects on their relationship, hoping to get to the bottom of the mystery. But as he examines the past, he builds a connection with the most important person in his life: himself.
5. Blue Valentine (2010)
From an outside perspective, this successful married couple’s relationship looks as cheery and loving as ever. But if you look closely, you start to notice the cracks that have appeared, tearing romance away at its very seams.
6. Somewhere in Time (1980)
When a playwright in 1972 becomes entranced by the photograph of an actress from the 1920s, he finds a way to go back in time to pursue his love interest from the past. But people in her life grow jealous of the attention she gives her new lover and plot to tear the two apart.
7. Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)
Truly, Madly, Deeply is a tragic love story about letting go of the past and embracing the present. When a young woman’s lover tragically passes, he returns as a ghost to live with her. But she finds a new boyfriend and must choose between the spirit and the living man.
8. Two Lovers (2008)
A photographer who moves in with his parents meets a beautiful girl and starts a relationship with her. But when he meets another woman, she manipulates him into choosing her over his girlfriend.
9. The English Patient (1996)
In this heartfelt film, a dying man covered in brutal burns at an Italian monastery is treated by a kind nurse who grows fond of her mysterious patient. She learns more about his compelling life story as she does her best to treat his wounds.
10. Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012)
A couple who got together in their teens must face their differences when the ambitious wife files for divorce from her laid-back husband. Even though he goes along with it, the husband is still in love with his wife and doesn’t honestly want to end the marriage.
11. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
This sci-fi romance movie is about a woman who ends her relationship and uses a device that erases her memory of him to cope with the breakup. He follows suit, erasing his memory too, and the two somehow meet time and time again, continuing to erase their memories of each other. For how long can that tiresome cycle continue?
12. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
When a teenager travels to Italy with his parents for the summer, he meets his father’s young intern and grows infatuated with the man. The two men grow close and develop a passionate relationship in stolen moments together. But can their love make it past the summer?
13. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
In this love story set in the mountains of Wyoming, two cowboys, Ennis and Jack (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal), work together. But as time goes on, the two men develop a romantic and intimate relationship with each other. On the surface, they have to play by society’s rules, but their love is hiding in plain sight.
14. A Star Is Born (2018)
A famous singer who can’t get his drinking under control meets a young singer with aspirations of making it big. Their love and talents bring them to the highest highs and lowest lows.
15. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
On a remote island, a young painter is asked to paint a wedding portrait of another young woman without her knowing. As the two women spend more time together, they grow closer than just friends.
Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist from Worcester, MA with bylines in publications like Pulse Magazine, HorrorPress, CM Pride, Fangoria, and TransLash News & Narrative. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more in the entertainment and lifestyle space. She loves horror, LGBTQ+ representation, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically.