9 Most Heartbreaking Romance Movies Ever Made

These heartbreaking romance movies are guaranteed to make you reach for the tissue box.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Sometimes all you need is a good cry, and these nine heartbreaking romance movies are bound to do the trick. When a romantic comedy just doesn’t have what it takes to tug on your heartstrings, these films will get the job done. From forbidden love to tragic deaths, these stories are brought to life by A-list Hollywood actors who know just what it takes to break your heart.

9. Blue Valentine (2010)

Blue Valentine follows the journey of a married couple, portrayed by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, as they struggle to keep their marriage afloat. The movie also takes us back to their courtship days, cutting scenes back and forth between the present and the past, giving us a glimpse of how their relationship began, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when you see it falling apart. Because of this, the film is known as one of the saddest romance movies to ever hit the silver screen.

The film was written by Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis, and Cami Delavigne, with Cianfrance also directing. Blue Valentine received widespread acclaim. Williams was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama, meanwhile, Gosling received a nomination for Best Actor in a Drama at the Golden Globe Awards.

8. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

Set in 1965, The Bridges of Madison County follows the story of Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), an Italian war bride residing on an Iowa farm with her husband and two children. Her life is interrupted when Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood), a National Geographic photojournalist, visits Madison County to capture images of the region’s historic covered bridges. While Francesca’s family is away on a brief trip, she and Robert engage in a passionate four-day love affair. 

It’s one of the saddest romance movies because, throughout the movie, you can tell that Francesca and Robert truly fall in love, but they choose not to spend the rest of their lives together.

The film, written by Richard LaGravenese and Robert James Waller and directed by Clint Eastwood, was praised by critics and grossed $182 million worldwide. Meryl Streep’s compelling portrayal earned her a nomination for the Best Actress Academy Award in 1996.

7. Out of Africa (1985)

Out of Africa is another sad romance movie that stars Meryl Streep. The film is about a baroness (Streep) who has a passionate love affair with a big game hunter (Robert Redford), and it’s considered one of the saddest romance movies because it portrays the struggles and tragedies of the baroness, Karen Blixen, during her time in colonial Kenya. 

In the film, Karen moved to Kenya to start a coffee plantation with her husband, Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer), however, the marriage ended in failure, and Karen was left to manage the plantation on her own. Throughout the movie, Karen faces various challenges, including drought and financial difficulties. Things seem to look up when she meets Redford’s character, Denys, but this relationship also ends in tragedy.

6. Titanic (1997)

Often considered the most tragic romance movie of all time, James Cameron’s Titanic follows an upper-class woman named Rose (Kate Winslet) who falls in love with a poor nomadic artist from Wisconsin named Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) in a matter of four days. Despite being engaged to social status peer, Cal (Billy Zane), Jack is able to break Rose out of her shell and help her tap into her free spirit. After an hour and a half of making the audience fall in love with Rose and Jack as a couple, the inevitable happens as the Titanic starts to sink.

Over the past 30 years, audiences have desperately debated whether there was enough room on the door to hold both Rose and Jack, while others have thought about how unfair it is to the father of Rose’s children that she meets up with Jack, a boy she had a four-day love affair with, at the top of the stairs at the end of the movie, rather than her eventual husband whom she spent a lifetime with. Nevertheless, Titanic was a critically acclaimed hit that was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and bagged a total of 11 Oscar wins.

5. The English Patient (1996)

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The English Patient is considered one of the saddest romances movies because the film paints a tragic and emotional story of love and loss during World War II. The movie revolves around the character of Count Laszlo de Almásy (played by Ralph Fiennes), a Hungarian cartographer who becomes badly burned and injured in a plane crash in the Sahara Desert. Nursed back to health by a French-Canadian nurse named Hana (played by Juliette Binoche), Almásy begins to recount the story of his life, including his love affair with a married British woman named Katherine Clifton (played by Kristin Scott Thomas).

4. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

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Brokeback Mountain was a groundbreaking movie that explored a loving relationship between two men at a time when homosexuality was considered taboo.

The movie, which stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal and was written by Annie Proulx, Larry McMurtry, and Diana Ossana and directed by Ang Lee, depicts the difficulties and emotional struggles that the two men face as they try to navigate their feelings for each other while also dealing with the societal pressures and expectations of their families, friends, and community. Despite their love for each other, they are unable to be together openly, and their relationship is constantly threatened by the fear of exposure and the repercussions that would follow.

The film also explores themes of loneliness, regret, and missed opportunities, as both men are unable to fully express their love and desire for each other. This leads to a sense of tragic inevitability, as their love affair ultimately ends in heartbreak and tragedy, hence why it is one of the saddest romance movies.

3. Me Before You (2016)

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Me Before You is based on the novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes and is about a woman named Louisa Clark (played by Emilia Clarke) who takes a job taking care of a paralyzed man named Will Traynor (played by Sam Claflin) and the pair subsequently fall in love. The film is considered one of the saddest romance movies because of the tragic ending that is completely avoidable but for the choice of one person.

Moyes was able to write the movie script for her own book and the film was directed by Thea Sharrock. The movie wasn’t nominated for any Oscars, but it did win the People’s Choice Award for Best Dramatic Movie.

2. A Walk to Remember (2002)

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Directed by Adam Shankman with a script by Karen Janszen based on the Nicholas Sparks novel, A Walk to Remember is the story of two teenagers, Landon Carter (played by Shane West) and Jamie Sullivan (played by Mandy Moore), who fall in love with each other despite their differences. Jamie is a devout Christian who is involved in her church and her community, while Landon is a popular but troubled high school student who is more focused on partying and engaging in shifty shenanigans. The film becomes one of the saddest romance movies ever when it’s revealed that Jamie has terminal cancer.

1. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

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One of the saddest romance movies ever and based on a John Green book, The Fault in Our Stars, is about two teenagers with cancer who decide to visit a withdrawn author in Amsterdam and fall in love along the way. The film stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as the star-crossed teens, and it was directed by Josh Boone with a script done by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, and John Green. While this movie could have been an uplifting coming-of-age romance, Green went the other route when writing the book, creating a devastating ending that is bound to make any movie watcher sob.

The movie was extremely popular with the teen demographic and won numerous awards, including Teen Choice Awards, MTV Movie Awards, and Young Hollywood Awards.