Wanna Cry? These Romantic Movies Are Guaranteed To Make You Cry

Time and time again it’s romantic dramas that will inevitably have you reaching for a box of tissues no matter how much you’ve watched them. Whereas rom-coms are designed to make you feel light and fluttery, these films are designed to hit you where it hurts.

Sometimes, you just need a good cry. Maybe you’re dealing with a ton of stress, maybe you are struggling with something in your life or maybe you don’t even have an exact answer and all you know is that you have a bunch of pent up emotion that needs to be let out. Your reasons, whatever they may be, are valid. When we feel like this, we turn to some of our favorite heartbreaking movies.

You’re swept up in some of the most raw and powerful emotions a human could feel, all because they have formed some kind of enigmatic connection with another person. In between heaving sobs, there’s a moment of grounding, even beyond the most dramatic of scenarios: This feeling is what being a person is all about. 

So next time you’re in the mood for some cathartic tears, cue up one of these tried-and-true sad romantic films.

Past Lives (2023)

George V Magazine: “What if this is a past life as well, and we are already something else to each other in our next life? Who do you think we are then?”

When New York-based writer Nora is reunited with her childhood best friend from South Korea, Hae Sung, they must confront how they fit into each others’ lives after all this time. Past Lives delves into the antithetical feelings of being happy in your current life, but at the same time mourning the life you used to live, the person you used to be and the different paths you could have taken — especially when it comes to love.

Queen & Slim (2019)

George V Magazine: “I want a guy to show me myself. I want him to love me so deeply, I’m not afraid to show him how ugly I can be.”

In this Melina Matsoukas-Lena Waithe collaboration, the classic Bonnie and Clyde story gets a total makeover that’s relevant and poignant for the times. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya)’s uneventful first date turns traumatic when they encounter a trigger happy racist cop, sending the unlikely couple on the run and on a heartbreaking journey to love. No spoilers, but this film ends exactly the way you hope it wouldn’t — bring tissues.

If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

George V Magazine: “I hope that nobody has ever had to look at anybody they love through glass.”

Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, Beale Street tells the story of Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood friends and now sweethearts who want nothing but to get married and raise their soon-to-be born baby together. Life has other plans: Fonny is arrested and thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit. Tish fights an uphill battle to get Fonny released, but the odds are perpetually stacked against him. It’s a terribly sad love story that’s also about the systemic oppression of Black Americans under mass incarceration.

A Star Is Born (2018)

George V Magazine: “I’ll never love again.”

A Star Is Born has been remade three times prior to Bradley Cooper’s latest version, and yet no one has thought to change the tragic ending. In this version, Cooper’s rocker Jackson falls for an undiscovered songwriter Ally (Lady Gaga), and encourages her to take charge of her music career. But with Jackson’s own star fading, the relationship between him and the rising superstar is doomed.

Brief Encounter (1940)

George V Magazine: “I’ve fallen in love. I didn’t think such violent things could happen to ordinary people.”

Brief Encounter is heartbreaking in its ordinariness. A housewife (Celia Johnson) meets a doctor (Alec Harvey) during her routine errand run. They fall in love, of course, during that brief encounter on the train. Though she gravitates closer to him and further from her domestic obligations in the weeks that follow, the couple is crushed by their roles.

The Notebook (2004) 

George V Magazine: “Read this to me and I’ll come back to you.” 

The Notebook is one of those movies that is so sad, you could break out into tears just thinking about it. The drama chronicles the highs and lows of the life-long romance between working-class Noah (Ryan Gosling) and upper-class Allie (Rachel McAdams). The intense chemistry between the two stars and the various hurdles (a disapproving family, false starts, a world war) that Noah and Allie face are more than enough to sweep you up in the film’s emotional arc. But add in older Noah reading from a journal to a dementia-stricken Allie as the framing device, and you’ll be left feeling devastated for quite some time.

A Walk to Remember (2002) 

George V Magazine: “Jamie saved my life. She taught me everything. About life, hope and the long journey ahead. I’ll always miss her. But our love is like the wind. I can’t see it, but I can feel it.”

Maybe you’ll feel silly sobbing over teenage love, but that’s exactly what will happen with A Walk to Remember, which follows the unexpected, life-changing relationship between bad boy high school senior Landon (Shane West) and minister’s daughter Jamie (Mandy Moore). When the two are reluctantly thrown together in the school play, Jamie makes Landon promise not to fall in love with her — a weird thing for one teen to ask another, and something one can never guarantee. The pit in your stomach that forms when her reasoning — a fatal leukemia diagnosis — is finally revealed never quite goes away, even as the young couple stay steadfast in their love for each other. 

Moonlight (2016)

George V Magazine: “You’re the only man that’s ever touched me. You’re the only one. I haven’t really touched anyone since.” 

Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning film Moonlight is a profoundly moving coming-of-age portrait of a young Black man throughout various stages of his life as he explores his sexuality and who he fundamentally is. The movie is told in three chapters focusing on defining moments for protagonist Chiron, who is played at different ages by Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes. Although we only spend brief snapshots with each Chiron, every actor gives stunning, fully realized performances that effortlessly win viewers over. You feel exactly what Chiron feels, almost as if you are experiencing every tough or happy moment alongside him, basically making it impossible for the tears not to come.

Blue Valentine (2010) 

George V Magazine: “I can’t do this anymore.”

Almost every moment in Blue Valentine — which follows the dissolution of one couple’s marriage — is painful to watch. Told in a non-linear manner, we see Cindy (Michelle Williams) and Dean (Ryan Gosling) find love at the beginning of their relationship while also watching it fall apart before our eyes some years later, which makes the film all the more effective. You understand how and why Cindy and Dean’s deep connection comes about — so much so that you desperately want them to make it work — but you can also clearly see that the pair are in fundamentally different places with different wants and needs. There’s no way for Cindy and Dean to make it work, and that’s what hurts most of all.  

The Vow (2012) 

George V Magazine: “How do you look at the woman you love and tell yourself it’s time to walk away?” 

Imagine this: You meet the love of your life and you are blissfully happy together. Then a car accident leaves your partner with amnesia, and they’ve forgotten your entire relationship — including why and just how much they love you. That hypothetical scenario is enough to choke anyone up, but it’s the true story that inspired The Vow and was brought to life by Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. And trust me, if you see Rachel McAdams cry on screen, you’re going to want to cry too. 

Atonement (2007) 

George V Magazine: “Robbie, look at me. Come back. Come back to me.” 

The movie Atonement, which is adapted from the Ian McEwan novel of the same name, has two classically sad tropes: lovers torn apart by class, and lovers torn apart by war. The plot is also much more complicated than that. Cecilia (Keira Knightley), the eldest daughter of a wealthy British family, and Robbie (James McAvoy), the housekeeper’s son, are secretly in love. But when Cecilia’s younger sister Briony (played as a child by Saoirse Ronan and at age 18 by Romola Garai) observes the two in a passionate moment and falsely accuses Robbie of rape, the couple is separated — first by prison, then by World War II. Your heart breaks for Cecilia, Robbie and what should have been, as well as an adult Briony, who can never make up for an awful act she committed as a child.  

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) 

George V Magazine: “In solitude, I felt the liberty you spoke of. But I also felt your absence.” 

Every scene in Portrait of a Lady on Fire looks like a work of art, but there’s so much more beauty to be found in the film. Written and directed by acclaimed French filmmaker Céline Sciamma, the intimate drama is set in 18th century France and follows painter Marianne (Noémie Merlant), who has been hired to create a portrait of an upper class woman Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). The catch? Héloïse can’t know what Marianne is doing, because she refuses to sit for portraits and does not want to get married. Watching the two women grow closer together is almost intoxicating, even with the devastating knowledge that they’ll never truly be able to have what they want. 

Your Name (2016)

George V Magazine: “I love you.”

The power of connection is at its most moving in Your Name, a Japanese anime film about Tokyo high schooler Taki (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and mountain-town student Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi). The pair are total strangers, but, somehow, they have been magically bonded and can swap bodies. As they experience life through an entirely new POV, they become determined to meet IRL — a journey that will take you on a very teary-eyed roller coaster of emotions. If you’re new to anime, this is a good entry point because not only will you be in awe of the stunning art, you’ll be stuck bawling at the star-crossed twist. We recommend watching with subs, not dubs.

Titanic (1997)

George V Magazine: “It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I trust it.”

When Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a drifter with boyish charm, and Rose (Kate Winslet), a 17-year-old socialite, climb aboard the doomed ocean liner, there are two things they don’t know. First, that the ship will sink after hitting an iceberg in the Arctic. Second, that before the ship sinks, they’ll experience an awe-inspiring, life-changing love — the kind, perhaps, worth boarding the Titanic for.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)

George V Magazine: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Granted, Moulin Rouge’s tearjerker of a line isn’t even from the movie. But so much of Moulin Rouge! is borrowed, including the main songs. Christian (Ewan MacGregor) and Satine’s (Nicole Kidman) love story is doomed from the start. But director Baz Luhrrman makes sure that everything that comes before the tragic ending is gleaming with beauty and lavishness.

Chungking Express (1994)

George V Magazine: “Actually, really knowing someone doesn’t mean anything. People change. A person may like pineapple today and something else tomorrow.”

In this heavily stylized film, two cops in Hong Kong fall in love. Kaneshiro falls for the mysterious, trenchcoat-clad Brigitte Lin, and his coworker, Leung, is drawn to the day-dreaming kebab-stall girl, Faye Wong. But in this movie of “could have beens,” the possibility of romance is more exciting than any substantial relationship actually materializing between the pairs.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)

George V Magazine: “People only die of love in the movies.”

Guy (Nino Castelnuovo) and Genevieve (Catherine Deneuve) fall madly in love just as Guy is drafted to serve in the Algerian War. And yet, the love that had been so wildly strong fades. She gets pregnant. He’s comes home and marries someone else. Things change. The movie reaches a breaking emotional climax when, years later, the lovers have a chance encounter on a snowy evening back in the town they first met.

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