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Breaking-up: Cinema Style

It’s break-up season again, at least that’s what the annoying radio station that I wake-up to told me this morning. Funny, because I just broke-up with my partner the other day. I guess I’m just a statistic in the collective mad dash to move-on. It’s switch your partners time—like a game of musical chairs—with more arduous consequences than simply losing your seat.

So being a movie junkie I turn to the movies to pave my way into singledom ("wow Kiki, that’s real grownup of you," I hear you say). But the truth is, in a classic situation like this I find myself asking “if I was a character in the movies, what would my character do?"

Before I continue with my column, I should say one thing. I hope for your sake you're taking my rental suggestions to heart, and that you're not just reading Movie Night, shrugging your shoulders, and moving on with your life. Now where was I...

Citizen Kane (1941 - Orsen Wells)

citizen kaneOkay, so I'll admit it. If I wasn't a big lesbo I would have dated Orsen Wells, man was that guy talented. I know what you're thinking: "Kiki, you're a lesbian?" What you should be asking is "Kiki, hasn't Orsen Wells been dead for a long time?" Well yeah, but that doesn't make Citizen Kane any less than what someone I know would call the "cat's ass."

So why pick Citizen Kane as a break-up movie? This film is all about loss. It's about striving for success in life, in your relationship, and in your career, only to find out that what you've been striving for, you already lost when you were a child. A successful career can kill a successful marriage, and Citizen Kane explores the consequences of success.

If you're like me and black and white films get you hot, you will love the technical brilliance with which this film is crafted. If you can't be bothered with watching a masterpiece than please, when the movie begins, keep sleeping.

Thelma and Louise (1991 - Ridley Scott)

thelma and louiseJust for the record this is not a 'chick flic'... as a matter of fact, I hate that phrase. Why do it hate it? Because it insinuates that all movies were made for men, except for the ones that are 'chick flics.' I've had to go through life watching movies made by men, made for men, and dominated by male protagonists, so please don't reduce every movie with a female main character to something only women would enjoy... it trivializes the films, when great films should be seen for what they are: great.

So why is Thelma and Louise a great break-up movie? Because it's the breakup of two women from their partners that's the catalyst for their adventure together. It's not until they are free from their relationships, that they begin to recognize who they are as individuals.

Thelma and Louise is a rare film; it's rare in that it manages to do something that most great films fail to achieve. In a brief span of 129 minutes, the two characters morph and grow so that who they are when the movie begins is completely different, from who they've become when the credits role. Every time I watch it, and the scene comes on where they're in the hotel room and Louise has a nervous breakdown, I get chills. All of a sudden the two characters switch roles, and Louise starts acting like Thelma, and Thelma starts acting like Louise.

There's a reason both Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon were nominated for Academy Awards for their roles in this film; their acting is simply amazing. And being a big Ridley Scott fan, the direction is hands-down some of his best. The film garnered 21 Academy Award nominations, that's pretty impressive whether you respect the Oscars or not.

If you reduce Thelma and Louise to merely a 'chick flic' than I have to say, you're seriously missing the point.

The Squid and the Whale (2005 - Noah Baumbach)

squid and the whaleThis is one of those films that's so disturbing it's good. I think anyone who's witnessed the split of their parents will find The Squid and the Whale highly relatable.

Director Noah Baumbach (who's recent film Margot at the Wedding with Nicole Kidman is also worth a watch), paints a brilliantly realistic portrait of the role divorce plays in shaping the kids caught in its web. This film isn't a simple morality tale. The Squid and the Whale attempts to be brave enough to reflect like a mirror the true nature of divorce. It's brutal at times, it's sharp and brilliant at others and it's also strikingly funny.

I squirmed the entire way through the film, and left feeling overjoyed that Baumbach was clever enough to be able to show the breakdown of a relationship for what it often is: messy.

Other Picks:

High Fidelity (2000 - Stephen Frears)

Closer (2004 - Mike Nichols)

Brokeback Mountain (2005 - Ang Lee)

Annie Hall (1977 - Woody Allen)

When Harry Met Sally (1989 - Rob Reiner)