15 Best Movies About Letting Go & Starting Over

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Movies have the capacity to affect our emotions and even our world view.

Whether you’re exploring the meaning of life, in the midst of finding a job after losing your previous one, or on a mission to find yourself, there are movies that relate to these life experiences.

Watching them encourages us to reflect on the choices we’re making and, hopefully, do the right thing.

Letting go is a common topic in a lot of great movies, whether in regard to losing a loved one or letting go of a particular moment in our life, an object, or even a place.

These movies about letting go can be cathartic, giving viewers permission to finally move on. And if they’re not yet ready to let go, these movies might provide the courage to start over.

When you’re ready to let go, check these movies out.

1. Inside Out (2015)

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This film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film the year it was released. It chronicles the inner workings of a 12-year-old girl’s emotions as she and her family relocate to a different city.

Her five main emotions—joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear–are personified and influence her thoughts and actions.

We witness the interplay of these emotions as the girl, Riley, deals with new and challenging experiences brought on by her family’s move to San Francisco.

Faced with these big transitions, Riley must learn to let go of the comforting memories of the past and patterns formed in childhood.

By doing so, she’ll learn important lessons that will help her in the biggest transition she’s undergoing, which is becoming a strong young woman.

2. Widows (2018)

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Four women become widows after their husbands die in a botched getaway attempt during a heist. Now, a crime boss is after the women, demanding they return the $2,000,000 stolen from him by their husbands.

The widows are given a few days to return the money, and Veronica enlists the help of the other wives to undertake a heist that will get them the amount needed.

In this movie, we see Veronica and the other widows let go of the idea that certain roles—even in the criminal world—are reserved only for men.

In doing the heist, these women are potentially building a stronger future for themselves and the ones they love.

3. Up (2009)

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This movie was chosen by the National Board of Review as the Best Animated Film of 2009. It follows the story of an elderly man named Carl.

In a video montage at the beginning of the film, we witness how Carl and his childhood best friend, Ellie, met and built a life together.

When they were kids, Ellie revealed her dream of moving their clubhouse (which became their house after they married) to a place in South America called Paradise Falls.

Since Ellie’s death, Carl has been living a reclusive life. However, he decides to fulfill Ellie’s dream by moving their house to Paradise Falls. He plans to do so by floating the house there with the use of balloons.

Carl’s attempt to bring the house to Paradise Falls becomes complicated when he meets Russell, a kid in his neighborhood who stows away on the house during its flight.

Carl must (unwillingly, at first) deal with keeping Russell safe while finding a way to fulfill Ellie’s dream. But in doing so, Carl learns that he needs to let go of old dreams to make space in his life for new adventures.

4. Life After Beth (2014)

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This is a romantic comedy about a guy whose dead girlfriend comes back to life and he now has to deal with the consequences.

In this “anti-Valentine” movie, Zach struggles to cope with the loss of his girlfriend, Beth. People around him, including Beth’s family, are understanding and supportive of him.

Imagine how happy he is when he discovers that Beth has come back from the grave!

But while Zach is rejoicing, Beth’s personality becomes increasingly violent. At first, Zach tries to ignore these red flags, but he’s eventually forced to face the fact that his relationship with his girlfriend is deteriorating.

This movie is about letting go of an old love, learning to deal with grief, and finding new reasons to be happy.

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

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A painful breakup can lead people to doing crazy things in order to forget about their ex. In this Oscar-winning film, two people go to extremes to forget each other.

In the movie, technology that allows for the erasure of painful memories is made available to the general population.

Clementine and Joel, a former couple, undergo the procedure to erase each other from their respective memories after a painful breakup.

This movie is a reminder that grief is a process that we need to go through. To let go and forget is not something that happens overnight. Otherwise, we’d miss out on important lessons we need in order to grow.

Those memories and experiences shape who we are, and losing them is akin to losing ourselves.

6. Waiting to Exhale (1995)

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In this movie, we get to know four women who are successful but who live unsatisfactory lives, mainly because of their romantic relationships.

They all seem to be holding their breath and waiting for that right person.

Eventually, their current relationships become the jumping-off point for self-realization.

In the movie, each of the women learns to let go of the desire to please others to start making way for the fulfillment of their own dreams.

7. The Wrestler (2009)

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In this sports drama, an aging wrestler struggles to keep on working in the pro arena because he can’t let go of the only life he's ever known.

This life is where people seem to appreciate him and he appears to have a purpose.

However, he’s forced to take a step back and face his personal demons. To move forward again, he needs to let go of what’s holding him back and realize what brings him true happiness.

8. A Monster Calls (2017)

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In this dark fantasy movie, a boy struggles to come to terms with his mother’s serious illness. One night, a monster appears to the boy.

It tells him that it has three stories to tell him in their subsequent meetings, and that after the monster has told his stories, the boy must also tell a story of his own.

As his mother’s illness progresses, the boy moves in with his grandmother. The stories that the monster tells allow Connor to deal with his frustrations in his real life, especially about his mother’s illness.

In the end, the boy must learn a heartbreaking lesson and find the courage to let go of a loved one, of a life he has always known, of comfort, and of childhood, even in the midst of incredible grief.

9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

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In this film, viewers get to know Greg, a senior high student who, along with his “co-worker” Earl, creates parodies of popular movies.

Greg is determined to be noncommittal in everything, which is the reason why he calls Earl his co-worker, despite having known him since kindergarten.

Amidst the pressures of high school life and decisions about college, Greg’s mom encourages him to befriend Rachel, one of his classmates who has been diagnosed with leukemia.

As Greg becomes more committed to the friendship with Rachel, he and Earl decide to make a movie for her.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about letting go of fear and harnessing the resilience to move forward after a chapter of your life closes.

10. Everything Must Go (2011)

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This movie explores how people deal with change after losing everything. In the film, we get to know Nick, a sales executive struggling with getting sober who is fired from his job after he becomes entangled in a scandal with a coworker.

Nick’s wife leaves him on the same day he is fired. He goes home to find his wife gone, his personal belongings strewn all over his front yard, and the lock on the front door changed.

A couple of people—a local kid and his new neighbor—keep Nick company when he decides to live on his front lawn for several days. Although reluctantly at first, Nick decides to sell his belongings.

In doing so, he learns to let go of material stuff (as a metaphor for the burdens of his past) and create space for new and better things to come into his life.

11. Precious (2009)

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In this film, a young woman endures unspeakable hardships early in life. Already pregnant for the second time at 16 years old, the illiterate Precious Jones also suffers from verbal and physical abuse from her own mother.

When the principal at Precious’ school discovers that the young woman is pregnant, she assists Precious in joining an alternative school program.

It is the principal’s hope that Precious will have the will to change the trajectory of her life.

Despite the challenges that she faces, Precious attends the alternative school program, where she is empowered by her fellow students and her teacher.

Nevertheless, pain and abuse hound her, challenging her will to make a better life for herself and her children.

In the end, she must learn to let go of the idea that she’s powerless to change her life.

She needs to disregard what she has been taught about what she can and cannot do and finally live her life according to her own rules.

12. Begin Again (2014)

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In this film, viewers get to know two people:

  • Gretta, a songwriter who has just broken up with her boyfriend after he admits to infidelity, just as his music career starts to soar
  • Dan, a former music label executive who sees potential in Gretta’s talent and wants to represent her professionally

Music is the vehicle through which Gretta expresses her thoughts and feelings. It is also the vehicle that allows her to heal and tap into her true self.

This movie is about letting go of what’s no longer working in your life—whether it’s a relationship, a career, a decision, or something else—and moving forward to a brand-new start.

13. Amelie (2002)

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In this avant-garde French film, we meet quirky Amelie, who takes it upon herself to help other people find happiness. However, this benevolent mission is only Amelie’s façade, as she is afraid of going after what truly makes her happy.

This movie shows us how to let go of our fear of life and finally have the courage to savor true happiness for ourselves.

14. This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

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In this film, viewers get to know the members of a dysfunctional family forced to be together once more because of the father’s death. Each of the siblings have recently gone through harrowing experiences in their adult lives.

Now, they must be under one roof together for one week with their mother and their respective spouses (current and former), as well as others who could have been part of their lives.

Each of them learns something during their time together, which allows them to reconnect.

This movie is an example of learning to let go of the pains of the past to have the chance to build better relationships with the people who are with you in the present moment.

15. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

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After spending eight months in a mental institution to treat his bipolar disorder, Pat moves in with his parents. He plans to reconcile with his estranged wife.

One day, Pat meets a young widow named Tiffany. She has an undiagnosed disorder, and the two bond because of this.

Tiffany offers to help Pat reconcile with his wife. In exchange, Pat has to become Tiffany’s partner in a dance competition that she wants to join. Pat agrees.

This movie reminds us that every cloud has a silver lining. It also teaches us that we can only let go when we've sufficiently processed the pain and grief from our past.

The film shows how some people go about processing experiences from the past and are determined to move forward in life, despite all the painful experiences they’ve had.

It reminds us to accept the new things happening in life while we keep moving forward, understanding that each choice has its risks and rewards.

Final Thoughts on Movies About Letting Go & Starting Over

There you have it—a collection of movies about letting go. Hopefully, these films have provided inspiring examples of how people can let go and say goodbye in different circumstances.

I hope they help you find the courage to take a step forward and make a new start.

If you found this post helpful, you might also want to check out the following resources:

movies about letting go | best movies about letting go | best breakup movies