6 Cathartic Life-After-Divorce Movies To Inspire You

It’s time to break out the popcorn (and maybe a box of tissues)...

woman watching TV with popcorn getty

Sometimes, when you're thinking about what life after divorce might look like, you take therapy into your own hands — and to the movies.

You may not be able to part ways with your shrink just yet, but you also may need a mini-reprieve from the format.

That’s where those classic life-after-divorce movies come in. They can be both cathartic and inspiring — and a consoling reminder that you’re not alone.


There’s a reason people still flock to the "oldies-but-goodies." Time may be on a fast trajectory, but emotions are timeless — especially when it comes to life-altering experiences like divorce.

If you’re drowning in your own tears and wondering who to invite to your pity party, grab your remote and fire up your movie app.

Whether you need a big dose of the "ha-has" or an excuse to emote into a box of tissues, Hollywood has answered the call!

RELATED: 5 Reasons You Feel Lifeless After Divorce & How To Heal


Here are 6 cathartic life-after-divorce movies to inspire you.

1. First Wives’ Club (1996)

Sometimes, a little comedic revenge — at least on screen — is good for the aching soul.

And when it comes to revenge in life-after-divorce movies, no one does it better than Elise (Goldie Hawn), Brenda (Bette Midler), and Annie (Diane Keaton) in First Wives' Club.

Jaded by their cheating husbands after helping them climb the ladder of success, they join forces for some costly retribution.

Traitors, keep your younger models. These damsels have come for the dough!

2. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

No one but the incomparable Robin Williams could infuse ROTFL comedy into the delivery of poignant experiences and life lessons. (Well, Euphegenia Doubtfire might give him a little competition.)


In Mrs. Doubtfire, San Francisco voice-over actor Daniel Hillard (Williams) is divorced by his wife Miranda (Sally Field). He loses custody of his three children and co-parenting isn’t an option.

Daniel is limited to weekend visits with his kids. So, in an effort to see them more, he creates the character of an old Scottish nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire, and applies for the job.

The beauty and genius of this movie are that it’s fun — and cathartic — for the whole family.

Children of divorce will easily relate to the Hillard children. And divorced parents will easily relate to the awkwardness of someone new entering into an ex’s life and the lives of their children.


If you need some healing laughter with a dose of every-divorce-is-unique, do a Netflix night and chill with Mrs. Doubtfire.

3. Stepmom (1998)

The movie Stepmom bravely steps into the possibilities and probabilities of life after divorce — children, custody, new love, step-parents, co-parenting, and lingering emotions.

Julia Roberts plays Isabel, an ambitious photographer and the (younger) love interest of Luke (Ed Harris). Luke and his ex-wife Jackie (Susan Sarandon) have two children — and Jackie is nothing if not the "perfect mom."

Tension, resentment, fear, jealousy, and sabotaging rear their ugly heads as this family navigates the addition of a new parental figure.


And all the relationships go through a startling self-examination and transformation when Jackie learns she has cancer.

RELATED: 10 Ways Life After Divorce Is So Much Better (Really!)

4. It’s Complicated (2009)

What do you get when you combine Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin? Well, It's Complicated, so you’ll just have to watch to find out.

Jane (Streep) and Jake (Baldwin) have been divorced for 10 years. But, leave it to a family event to rekindle the fire.

The complicated part? Jake is remarried and Jane is in a relationship.

Yeah, it gets hilariously messy. They’re well past the vulnerable period of rebound relationships, but they have managed to rebound into their own affair.


You may not be in the same situation, but, if nothing else, you’ll take comfort in knowing how twisted life after divorce can be.

5. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

Author Frances Mayes expands upon her personal memoir of transforming a villa in Bramasole, Italy to tell a story of transformation after divorce in Under the Tuscan Sun.

After her husband divorces her for his affair partner, Frances, played by Diane Lane, is inconsolable.

Stuck in the early stages of grief, she accepts a life-changing gift from her lesbian-couple friends: A gay bus tour of Italy.

While there, she finds a dilapidated villa that needs as much soul work as she does.

Frances’ journey of rebuilding a crumbling edifice becomes a living metaphor for her own recovery after divorce, and becomes the natural inspiration for her writing.


This "You can do this!" movie will move you through the agony of betrayal and divorce, and into the light of healing and self-rediscovery.

And you get all that therapy while on a virtual Italian vacay.

6. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

This life-after-divorce movie deals with one of the most obvious questions after a breakup: When do you "get back out there"?


Whether you hold off on getting into a new relationship or jump the gun with an online dating profile, it's a big decision.

Are you ready? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Are you really cut out for a relationship? What about your kids?

In How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Stella Payne (Angela Bassett) is a successful stockbroker facing life after divorce in her 40s.

Encouraged by her friend Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) to take a trip to Jamaica, Stella comes face-to-face with familiar feelings and temptations. (Hey, with temptation like Taye Diggs, who wouldn’t get tingly and tempted?)

But, she has more to consider than just herself and her feelings. Sometimes, "getting your groove back" starts with redefining your groove.


You may not be able to escape the reality of your divorce. But sometimes, a little escapism can help clear out your tears and restore hope.

RELATED: 7 Ways To Get Your Groove Back After A Heartbreaking & Life-Changing Divorce

Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her articles on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting have appeared on MSN, Yahoo!, and eHarmony, among others. You can learn more about Karen and her work on her website.