Ending a marriage, even through a simple online divorce process, can be a time of pain, reflection, and uncertainty. While a great movie can’t solve the problems you may be experiencing, it can certainly lend perspective and help you process what you’re feeling. That’s why we’ve turned to the silver screen for this entry and made our picks of 5 great divorce movies, and the lessons they teach. For most, the harsh reality of their situation doesn’t set in until they have a hard copy set of the divorce papers in-hand. These films, in our estimation, help in the ensuing healing process.
1. Kramer vs. Kramer
Plot details: A just-divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and then must fight in court to keep custody of him.
What it says: One of the toughest things about divorce is learning to do things on your own for the first time after having learned to rely on the other person. Making matters tougher for Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is the fact that he has a young son to whom he must become father and mother. Once he settles in to the role, he must then fight to keep custody. The film reminds everyone — man or woman — what they’re capable of, and reveals the inner strength that can come when you choose to let your guard down and live for someone else.
2. Mrs. Doubtfire
Plot details: After a bitter divorce, an actor disguises himself as a female housekeeper to spend secret time with his children held in custody by his ex.
What it says: When Daniel Hillard, or Mrs. Doubtfire (Robin Williams), discovers that his wife is leaving him for another man, he springs in to action, using his talents to spend time with his kids. The film reminds people going through a divorce that there is always a reason to go on and live life, no matter how difficult a divorce may seem at the time. You can move on and continue to find fulfillment.
3. War of the Roses
Plot details: A married couple try everything to get each other to leave the house in a vicious divorce battle.
What it says: War of the Roses pits former love birds Oliver (Michael Douglas) and Barbara (Kathleen Turner) against one another in what could be a no-holds-barred fight to the death. While the sobering message of the film is to move on with your life rather than give in to the destructive hostilities forged in the confines of a failed marriage, director Danny DeVito keeps the laughs coming, and that’s perhaps one of the most needed elements for thriving after divorce.
Plot details: A pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.
What it says: Jenna (Keri Russell) does what many people in troubled marriages do. She finds romance in the arms of another. But as the relationship with her married doctor boyfriend advances, she starts to grow as a person and see that sometimes the road best traveled isn’t always the most convenient. There’s an important lesson in that for anyone, who thinks jumping into a relationship after (or even during) a marriage is a good idea. The film sends the valuable message that getting to know yourself is an ongoing process.
Plot details: A terminally-ill mother has to settle on the new woman in her ex-husband’s life, who will be their new stepmother.
What it says: Jackie Harrison (Susan Sarandon) must cope with the fact that her ex-husband’s wife Isabel (Julia Roberts) is her children’s best hope at having a motherly example in their lives after she’s gone. The film is poignant, tragic, warm, funny, and, ultimately, fulfilling, and it deals with a growing concern among divorced parents — changing family dynamics in the aftermath of the marriage.
Are there any movies that have lent perspective or helped you cope with your feelings during and/or after a divorce? If so, share them in the comments section.