Valentine's Day is the greeting card holiday to spend with the one you love; but what about those of us out there without a special someone? Maybe you've recently had your heart broken. Maybe it has just been a while. Or maybe you are just a sucker for a sad ending. Whatever the case may be this Valentine's Day, consider some films with the not-so-happy endings. Tissue Warning: you may want to have a box handy for the following films.
Spoiler Alert: plot summaries will have spoilers. If you have not seen a particular film on the list you may want to add it to your queue and skip the synopsis for now.
Ghost, Jerry Zucker, 1990
Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance, 2010
Two young people, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams), rush into marriage when Cindy discovers she is pregnant, probably from her previous boyfriend. After a few years of marriage, and many fights, Cindy tells Dean to leave and their daughter asks him to stay. Dean says he cannot and walks away.
Cold Mountain, Anthony Minghella, 2003
W.P. Inman (Jude Law) meets Ada (Nicole Kidman) and they fall in love. But, the Civil War calls and Inman is forced to leave. He fights to get back to Ada and finally does. They get a few brief moments together before Inman is found and shot as a deserter. Inman dies in Ada's arms. The film ends a few years later revealing that Ada has a daughter, Inman is her father.
The Lake House, Alejandro Agresti, 2006
Alex (Keanu Reeves) and Kate (Sandra Bullock) communicate with each other through letters that can somehow travel through time. They are actually living two years apart. They set up a date and Kate goes to meet Alex, who never shows. She later realizes that a man she witnessed dying after a car accident was really Alex and he died on his way to see her. As Kate stands by the mailbox crying, thinking her warning message was too late, a car pulls up and Alex gets out.
After a brief four-day affair, Francesca (Meryl Streep) and Robert (Clint Eastwood) go their separate ways, but never forget each other. After Robert dies, Francesca completes his final wishes by spreading his ashes near a bridge where they had spent time together. Francesca asks her children in her will to do the same with her remains. After discovering the story of the affair, the children decide to honor Francesca's wishes instead of burying her next to their father.
The English Patient, Anthony Minghella, 1996
Almasy (Ralph Fiennes) has an affair with Katherine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Katherine's husband Geoffrey (Colin Firth) discovers it and crashes his plane, with Katherine inside, into Almasy's camp. Geoffrey is killed and Almasy crosses the desert to find help for Katherine, but is too late. Later, nurse Hana (Juliette Binoche) helps Almasy overdose on morphine in the hospital where she was tending to him so he can reunite with Katherine.
The Notebook, Nick Cassavetes, 2004
Duke (James Garner) reads elderly Allie (Gena Rowlands) her love story about when she was young (Rachel McAdams) and loved a man named Noah (Ryan Gosling). At the end of the film we learn that Duke is Noah and Allie remembers him. Duke reads her the story whenever her memory slips so she will remember again. After Duke has a heart attack and recovers enough to see Allie, she has a moment of clarity. The two reminisce and peacefully die in each other's arms.
Leaving Las Vegas, Mike Figgis, 1995
Ben (Nicholas Cage) goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. He meets a prostitute, Sera (Elizabeth Shue), and they start seeing each other. On his deathbed, Ben calls Sera. She visits him, they sleep together and Ben dies in Sera's arms.
Annie Hall, Woody Allen, 1977
Alvy (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) are the ultimate "on-again-off-again" couple. The film shows the various stages of their relationship and how they ultimately do not end up together.
Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola, 2003
An older American movie star, Bob (Bill Murray), meets a younger American woman, Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson), in Tokyo. They are both just visiting for a short time and develop an emotional relationship based on understanding. On his way to the airport Bob sees Charlotte, gets out of his car and goes to her. He whispers something in her ear. They kiss and then share an emotional good-bye.
A Walk to Remember, Adam Shankman, 2002
Teenagers Landon (Shane West) and Jamie (Mandy Moore) fall in love. Later Jamie is told she has cancer. The two are married and spend as much time together as they can before Jamie dies. Landon uses their relationship to better himself and in doing so fulfils Jamie's last wish of seeing a miracle.
Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee, 2005
Cowboys Jake (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) share an inmate night together while on a sheep herding job. Throughout their lives they meet in secret to continue their affair even though both men have families. Later, Ennis hears about Jack's death and how he wanted his ashes spread on Brokeback Mountain. While visiting Jack's house Ennis discovers shirts from that first trip he and Jack shared together. Ennis keeps the shirts so he will always have a part of Jack with him.
Titanic, James Cameron, 1997
Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) have a passionate love affair aboard the fateful Titanic. When the ship goes down, Jack sacrifices himself to save Rose.
Love Story, Arthur Hiller, 1970
College students Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) and Jennifer (Ali MacGraw) fall in love and marry, against the wishes of Oliver's father. When the couple later tries to have a child the doctor informs Oliver that his wife is ill and will die soon. Oliver is forced to ask his estranged father for money and lies to him as to its purpose. Jennifer dies and Oliver and his father attempt to repair their relationship in a teary final scene.
A Walk in the Clouds, lfonso Arau, 1995
Paul (Keanu Reeves) is a soldier who returns from war to find his new marriage in disrepair. He leaves for a business trip and meets Victoria (Aitana S'anchez-Gij'on), a college student on her way home. Paul discovers Victoria is pregnant by one of her professors and offers to act as her husband in front of her traditional family. During his stay with Victoria's family, the two fall in love. Paul must prove himself worthy of Victoria in the eyes of her father, and eventually does.