Split Screen

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onsider: You’ve just split with the heretofore-presumed love of your life, or the hot prospect from Thursday night never called back. You’re alone, in pajamas, watching a flickering TV. What’s on that flickering TV? Not fucking A Room With A View. You’d kill yourself. Instead, try High Fidelity or Annie Hall. Movies about breakups make the broken-up feel better, and keep the happily attached in their places. With that in mind, we provide this public service: a list of some of our favorite movie breakup scenes. — Carrie Hill Wilner

  Annie Hall
Aside from making it acceptable for women to skulk around in oversized men’s Oxford shirts, this movie is the archetype for every romantic comedy you’ve ever seen. Except every romantic comedy isn’t steeped in sullen passive-aggression. First line: “There’s an old joke. Uh, two elderly women are at a Catskills resort and one of ’em says: ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other says, ‘Yeah, I know, and such… small portions. Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life.” And for that, Woody, God bless you.
  Bed and Board (Domicile Conjugale)
The fourth of the “Antoine Doinel” series sees little Antoine sporting long hair and some serious malaise. Essentially: he cheats on wife, wife leaves him (while in full geisha garb, naturally), he gets so bored with mistress that he repeatedly calls now-estranged wife during dinner to explain how bored he is, mistress gets tired of his repeated trips to phone booth to call now-estranged wife and stalks out. Then he kind of gets back with wife. But then, in the last movie, they break up for real, so this still counts.
  Deep Blue Sea
You know when there’s this girl, and there’s all this sexy visceral tension and she’s almost your girlfriend, and you’re about to hook up with her and then she gets EATEN BY EXTRA-SMART SHARKS? Sucks to be you. Rated R for graphic shark attacks (seriously, they say that). Rated A for awesome.
Christian Slater and Wynona Ryder in a car. U2’s “Teenage Suicide” playing on the radio. Christian Slater shoots said radio. Wynona Ryder pauses briefly. Then: “That’s it. We’re breaking up.” Perfection.
  A Mighty Wind
We see Mitch and Mickey before and after, but not during, their breakup. We just hear them musing distantly about their charming romance, then, eventually, about how he was always sort of… strange. And how she, one day just started well… throwing things at him. It’s kind of depressing and sweet how tenderness lingers between people who were once in love, even if one of them is a shuffling schizophrenic. Especially if one of them is a shuffling schizophrenic.
  High Fidelity
When the cute sort-of-Swedish girl with the bangs ditches John Cusack (for, disgustingly enough, a man with a ponytail), he starts thinking about everyone he’s ever loved and lost, including the sophisticated (but vapid) Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is, in her main scene, wearing the most singularly unattractive shirt I have ever seen. Pity. Wanna know the weird thing though? John Cusack looks EXACTLY like a guy I broke up with. And now he’s the lead actor in a movie I’ve put in a list of best breakup movies. Meta.
  Splendor in the Grass
He leaves her, and she ends up institutionalized. It’s like all your histrionic pre-adolescent fantasies come to life, except you are Natalie Wood-and/or-Warren Beatty-hot. I am fragile, precious. Only once they have broken me, will they realize what I was. Maybe there will be suicide. There will certainly be adversarial adults. Also, there will be a slut. Most good movies have sluts.
Like Audrey Hepburn and ice cream, this movie is one of those things that is universally overrated. But that scene, where Humbert Humbert finds out she’s left the hospital with Quilty and goes in to that apoplectic rage? Oh my God. You don’t know whether to vomit or masturbate, which is not a position you often find yourself in.
  Wayne’s World
“Wayne, if you’re not careful, you’re going to lose me.” “I already lost you. Three moths ago! We BROKE UP!” Poor, crestfallen, gun-rack toting Stacey in her blue cotillion dress (and later, neck brace), the most hysterical depiction possible of the dumpee who just doesn’t get it. If you think about it, kind of the counterpart to Humbert Humbert in the hospital scene. Not so much with the vomit-masturbate conflict, though.
All of these are great breakup movies, but one of them has a fucking VOLCANO. This is it. Ingrid Bergman, basically a green-card wife, hates her oppressive husband and the fishing village he’s taken her to. She’s driven to escape by climbing the treacherous volcano Stromboli, in an impressive feat of mountaineering and symbolism. Last shot, her staggering through dust, poisonous clouds swirling around her, a very ugly sort of freedom achieved. It was also during the filming of Stromboli that Ingrid Bergman left Petter Lindstrom for Roberto Rosselini. So I guess that also kind of makes it a breakup movie, too.

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