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Heartbreak for Valentine’s Day: 14 Tearjerkers to Get the Waterworks Flowing

These romantic tearjerker movies are sure to leave your heart aching and breaking.

Ah, Valentine’s Day, the day of lovers and love and all things bright and beautiful. And while it’s nice to breathe a sated sigh for love found and happily ever afters, there is also something to be said for bittersweet love. You know, the love that cracks, breaks, is all too brief and fallible. Here and then gone.

valentine's day movies - romantic tearjerker movies featured image with Ghost, Titanic, and The Fault in Our Stars

So, if you’re looking for a self-indulgent pity party or sobfest on Valentine’s Day, here are some possible entertainment picks.

These romantic tearjerker movies are sure to get the waterworks flowing and leave your heart aching and breaking. Wallow and enjoy. And be sure to stack up on tissues and consoling comfort food. You’ll need it.

Happy Valentine’s Day – sniff!

*Do note that this list is something of a spoiler list by its very nature. A list of tearjerkers necessarily means that there will occur things to jerk the tears right out of you.


(In no particular order)

1. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

The Fault in Our Stars still
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars. Photo: Fox 2000 Pictures.

The sickbed is always a go-to tragic trope. And as emotionally manipulative as it is, who can resist the burgeoning love of two young cancer patients?

RELATED: A Walk to Remember (2002) – A Coming of Age Love Story Underscored By Faith In A Higher Power

Oh, Hazel and Augustus, our fair ones in this unfair life. Theirs is a love that is going terminal, so it’s all about embracing the here and now. Sniff.

2. Titanic (1997)

Titanic 1997 promo art
Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet in Titanic. Credit: Paramount Pictures/20th Century Fox

Yeah, yeah, we all knew how this one was going to end. But that doesn’t mean that you’re not hoping against hope that Jack and Rose can survive the icy waters of the North Atlantic.

Just praying their love can survive this tragedy in the making. Oh, but hearts go on as Celine Dion sings, and we snuffle along.

3. Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One Still
Felicity Jones and Diego Luna in Rogue One. Photo: Lucasfilm.

Love in a time of war is always a kicker to the solar plexus. Goodbyes, uncertainties, subsuming personal feelings to duty.

Oh, this Star Wars prequel is a palpable ache in if only. If only there had been time and space and peace enough for Jyn and Cassian to explore the growing tenderness and friendship between them.

If only love had room to truly blossom. Oh, what could have been. Alack and alas.

4. Miss Potter (2006)

Miss Potter still
Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor in Miss Potter. Photo: MGM.

When two soulmates find one another, we want this to be the happily ever after. Awkward, shy introverts, Beatrix and Norman’s gentle romance is a happy sigh.

Norman is such a steadying and supportive force in Beatrix’s life. Oh, so much hope.

And then, it all falls apart. And you might just find yourself wailing at the screen.

5. Ghost (1990)

Ghost movie still
Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Dying does seem to put a damper on happily ever afters. Especially when it’s an abrupt, violent, all-too-soon passing. And your ghost refuses to let go, to leave your love behind.

Oh, Sam and Molly are lovers divided by this. It breaks any heart. Oh, oh, oh….

6. Atonement (2007)

Atonement still
Keira Knightley and James McAvoy in Atonement. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Oh, Ian McEwan’s book is a heartbreaking, gut-twisting mastery of what ifs and if onlys, of imaginings and reimaginings of life’s decisions and their consequences. And the film adaptation of Atonement does the book justice.

Oh, the love that could have been between Cecilia and Robbie, if only. If only there hadn’t been that fateful miscommunication and misunderstanding.

And, if only there weren’t impossible class barriers. If only there wasn’t a war going on. If only attempts at redressing weren’t too late, just too, too late. Ugh. Right in the ticker.

Content Note: The movie is Rated R.

7. Arrival (2016)

Arrival movie still
Amy Adams and Jeremy Brenner in Arrival. Photo: Paramount Pictures.

The bittersweet heartbreak of this sci-fi reveals itself in the closing minutes. The happily ever after we’ve been plotting between linguist Louise and physicist Ian seemingly comes to fruition.

And yet, Louise knows the love now will not sustain the challenges to come. She knows what will come, what will be, what hearts will break, and still, she chooses to love that man right here and now. Oh boy, cue the waterworks.

8. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

The Bridges of Madison County still
Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood in The Bridges of Madison County. Photo: Amblin Entertainment.

Love, longing, and sacrifice. Oh, what happens when soulmates finally meet but are already tied up in their demanding lives?

Dutiful, self-sacrificing Francesca, wife, and mother, meets in the photographer Robert the connection she’s never had with her husband, with her children.

They blossom in one another’s presence. But personal desires take the back burner to family. Oh, the what if that will never be. Pass the chips, please.

9. Up (2009)

UP movie still
Photo: Disney/Pixar.

Okay, the first ten minutes of Up are an outright snot fest. Carl and Ellie’s great love is montaged on the screen, all the joys and sorrows.

And then Carl is just there alone, a bitter, old man, alone in life without his Ellie. Yeah, blow that nose and wipe those eyes. I’m crying just thinking about it.

10. The Way We Were (1973)

The Way We Were movie still
Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in The Way We Were. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

They say opposites attract. And we hope that the love igniting between Katie and Hubbell will burn strong and bright and steady enough to smooth out their differences.

But sometimes love isn’t enough. It burns too bright and too fast and goes cold. And you’re just left with the memories of the way you once were. My eyes are misting. Sing it, Barbra!

11. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Shakespeare in Love movie still
Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love. Photo: Universal Pictures.

Oh, the bard himself couldn’t even write a happy ending to his love affair with Viola. Societal conventions, familial duties, and royal decrees all can keep even the best of lovers perpetually star-crossed.

Que será, será, I guess. But it doesn’t make the heartache any less.

Content Note: Shakespeare in Love is Rated R.

12. The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook, Allie, Noah
James Garner and Gena Rowlands in The Notebook. Photo: New Line Cinema.

They got their happily ever after if she can remember it. As disease strips her of her memories, Allie listens to a tale of love from a stranger.

Oh, but he’s not a stranger, but her devoted husband, who’s been trying to reach her through the fog of dementia.

She’s slipping away from him. And I can’t even write anymore since tears are splattering on the keyboard. Have a whole box of tissues on the ready for The Notebook. Splat!

13. My Girl (1991)

My Girl movie
Anna Chlumsky and Macauley Culkin in My Girl. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Ah, innocent young love that never does get a chance to come of age. Eleven-year-olds Vada and Thomas are best friends.

Life is in upheaval, changes are a-coming. The teenage years are nearly there. But no one foresees the boy who will never grow old. Oh, it’s a devastating business here. Prepare to lose it.

14. Their Finest (2016)

Their Finest movie still
Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin in Their Finest. Photo: Lionsgate.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” sings Joni Mitchell. Their Finest is just one long “shipping” of Catrin and Tom to get it together and get together already!

And just when they’re almost there. This tentative, exhilarating new beginning – it’s gone. Oh, so cruelly gone. And there’s no going back to get it right. Just onward, knowing what you missed.

Oh, this one hurts – in that wallowingly good way. If you’re prone to swollen eyes, do think about it when you watch this film. Best not to have an important place to go the next day…

Content Note: The movie is Rated R.

Do you have a favorite “sad” romance that kicks you in the ticker every single time? What Valentine’s Day movies do you enjoy? Let us know in the comments. 

Top Photo: Ghost (Paramount Pictures); Titanic (20th Century Fox); The Fault in our Stars (Fox 2000)

Heartbreak For Valentine’s Day: 14 Tearjerkers To Get The Waterworks Flowing; pinterest image


By on February 14th, 2019

About Jessica Jørgensen

A lover of words, stories and storytellers since her youth and just plain curious by nature, Jessica embarked on a very long academic journey that took her across a continent (from Canada's west coast to its east) and even to the other side of the globe, where she currently lives an expat existence in Denmark. She now trails many fancy initials behind her name, if she ever cares to use them, and continues to be ever so curious. She's a folklorist, a mother, a wife, a middle child, a small town girl, a beekeeper, an occasional quilter, a jam-maker. She curates museum exhibits, gets involved in many cultural projects for this and that, collects oral histories when she can find the time and continues to love stories in all their many and varied forms. The local librarians all know her by name.

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