15 Best Movies About Starting Over with a Fresh Start

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Looking for movies about starting over?

Perhaps you have pressed the proverbial reset button and are now looking forward to fresh beginnings. On the other hand, you might be hesitant to embrace the changes coming your way, but know that they’re inevitable and want to be prepared.

Whatever the case, you’re going to love today’s article featuring movies that involve making a fresh start.

Many of the films in this compilation highlight the act of moving forward, where the main character rises like a phoenix from the ashes of an old life. In some of the movies, change comes in the form of an impulsive decision.

Overall, these stories show how something born out of chaos can end in redemption.

These movies show you how to let go of what doesn’t nourish your growth and where to find the courage to move on or begin again.

Let’s get started.

1. Chef (2014)

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First, here’s a film that introduces us to Carl Casper, the head chef of a prestigious restaurant in Los Angeles. His passion for cooking has long been dampened by the extremely controlling owner of the restaurant he works for.

After his scandalous reaction to a scathing review of his work by an influential food critic and blogger, Chef Casper finds himself jobless and a pariah in the restaurant world.

He gets a chance at a fresh start when his ex-wife, Inez, invites him on a trip to Miami so he can spend time with their son, Percy.

While in Miami, he acquires a rundown food truck. With Percy’s help, he remodels the food truck.

Chef Casper, Percy, and Martin (Casper’s friend from the restaurant where he previously worked) take the food truck on a cross-country trip from Miami to Los Angeles, selling Cubanos and stopping at gustatorial havens such as New Orleans (for beignets) and Texas (for some brisket).

The trip reignites Chef Casper’s creative fire, reminding him why he loves to cook. It is also an opportunity for him and Percy to develop a stronger father-son bond.

2. Mirai (2018)

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This animated movie was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award’s Best Animated Feature in 2019. It showcases the fantastical adventures of a young boy struggling with his feelings of resentment and jealousy at the birth of his younger sister.

The boy often goes to the family garden whenever he feels overwhelmed by the sight of his parents giving more attention to his younger sister.

At different times in the garden, he travels through time, meeting interesting individuals. He’s able to apply lessons he learns during his time travel to his present-day life. Also, because of these experiences, he learns to empathize with his parents.

Eventually, his travels to the past and future allow the boy to start over and finally accept his new role as a big brother.

3. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012)

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This movie introduces us to seven British pensioners who, lured by false advertising, travel to India to stay at a retirement hotel called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel located in Jaipur.

Each of them has personal reasons for moving to Jaipur, and living at the retirement hotel provides all of them the opportunity for a fresh start.

Also laid out before them is an opportunity for new adventure, including the flavors, sights, smells, and sounds of Jaipur. Some of them embrace it readily, while others are reluctant to even venture out of their hotel rooms.

However, just by coming to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the lives of the seven hotel guests are altered in many different ways.

4. Spirited Away (2003)

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In this animated film, a fresh start brings a family of three to a new city. However, a wrong turn on the drive to their new home brings the father, mother, and daughter to a place that the father thinks is the remnants of an abandoned amusement park.

The reality of the place is revealed when the sun goes down.

The family’s experience in the place forces the daughter to fend for herself and protect the ones she loves. She learns to trust in the kindness of strangers and see what is hidden behind the façade of the ordinary.

Eventually, the girl must learn the greatest lesson of all: Love brings freedom.

5. The Family Man (2000)

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In this movie, Jack, a highly successful Wall Street executive, is given a glimpse of how his life could be if he had made a different choice at a crucial point in the past.

On his way home one Christmas Eve, Jack makes a stop at a convenience store. He walks in on a robbery and is able to talk down the gunman.

The next day, Jack wakes up in an unfamiliar room, lying next to his former girlfriend Kate, who he left 13 years ago in favor of going on an overseas internship.

In this alternate life, Jack is Kate’s husband and the father of their two young children. He has a job as a car tire salesman, and Kate is a non-profit lawyer. Their life is simple.

Jack slowly begins to love this alternate life. However, it’s all temporary.

Eventually, he has to make a choice between the life he’s always known and a life he has only seen glimpses of.

6. This Is Where I Leave You (2014)

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In this movie, the death of the family patriarch becomes an opportunity for a fresh start for the remaining family members.

When their father dies, four grown siblings return to their family home to sit shiva with their mother. Considering the fact that they have grown apart over the years, the family has to endure the awkwardness of being in each other’s company for the next seven days.

As the days pass, the siblings bring each other up to speed on what's going on in their lives. Painful revelations surface, which eventually create different openings for everyone to reconnect and strengthen the bonds that bind them as a family.

7. The Way Back (2020)

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This sports drama is about being offered a chance at redemption.

His tragic past keeps a former high school basketball star in the grips of alcoholism. He works in construction, but one day his former high school offers him a job as a basketball coach for their varsity team.

His new job gives him a reason to reduce his drinking, and he succeeds in creating a winning team. However, the past comes back to haunt him, sending him in a downward spiral.

It is up to him to lay the ghosts of the past to rest and take the first step toward a new life.

8. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

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In this movie, an impulsive decision leads to a major life overhaul and an opportunity for healing a broken heart.

A newly divorced woman goes to Italy for a vacation. One day, on a tour of one of the towns, she stumbles upon a villa for sale, which she purchases on a whim.

She stays in Italy to renovate the house. While there, she meets and befriends several interesting individuals and is instrumental in altering the course of life for at least two of her new friends.

In her new life, she learns that there are many ways to be happy, even when she’s alone.

9. Chocolat (2000)

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This story begins when mother and daughter named Vianne and Anouk arrive in a small village in the French countryside. Their arrival brings changes that shake the foundations of the sleepy, traditional village.

Vianne opens a chocolate shop at a time when people are preparing themselves for Lent. At first, the villagers eye her with suspicion. Eventually, she wins them over with her chocolate-based remedies that change their lives in many different ways.

However, it’s not only the village that needs a fresh start. Vianne and Anouk constantly travel from town to town, offering their remedies to those in need. Their nomadic existence has taken a toll on Anouk, who wants a semblance of permanence in their lives.

Vianne faces a difficult choice of whether to fulfill the duty passed on to them by their ancestors (to help other people), or give her daughter a secure life and finally settle down somewhere.

10. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

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This romantic comedy introduces viewers to Alice, newly widowed and wishing for a better life for her son and herself. She has a dream, and she’s holding on to it, despite the challenges along the way.

Alice decides that she and Tommy will move to California. She hopes to make it there as a singer—a dream she had before she got married.

However, their dwindling funds force them to temporarily settle in Arizona. Because of some bad decisions, she and Tommy have to flee for their safety.

They arrive at Tucson, where Alice finds work as a waitress. Her intention is to save enough money so she and Tommy can continue on to California.

However, circumstances and the people she meets in Tucson threaten to change her plans. Alice has to make a choice that may lead to her lasting happiness.

11. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

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This movie is based on the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. In this movie, a woman in her 40s finds the courage to change her life through the stories told to her by an elderly woman she encounters in a nursing home.

One day, Evelyn visits an Alabama nursing home with her husband. Evelyn’s husband has an aunt residing in the home. While he talks with his aunt, Evelyn wanders around and encounters another resident who introduces herself as Ninny.

In subsequent meetings with Ninny, Evelyn learns about the Threadgoode family. Ninny’s stories often involved Idgie Threadgoode, the youngest of the family.

The more time that Evelyn spends with Ninny, listening to her stories, the more she becomes proactive in taking control of areas of her life that she feels dissatisfied about.

12. Wild (2014)

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This biographical drama is based on the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. It chronicles Strayed’s experiences and epiphanies while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Struggling with numerous personal problems and grief, Cheryl Strayed decides to embark on a solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, even though she lacks sufficient hiking experience.

She covers 1,100 miles on her trip, which takes her 94 days.

Her solo hike allows Strayed to rediscover herself, find closure for the grief she’s been carrying about her mother’s death, and forgive herself for the bad decisions she’s made.

13. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

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This movie offers another view on starting over. It shows us that there are times when a fresh start doesn’t happen by choice.

In this case, starting over involves a lot of fear, uncertainty, and even pitfalls that may undermine a happy outcome.

This movie chronicles the struggles of an Oklahoman family forcibly uprooted from their land and making their way to California to start a new life.

New machines replace the work done by human sharecroppers in Oklahoma, and the Joad family, along with their neighbors, are evicted from their lands. They make the long trek to California, leaving the only life they’ve ever known for an unknown future.

14. Room (2015)

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In this movie, a mother and her son experience a new kind of life after being freed from seven years of captivity.

The 5-year-old boy’s world has been a 10×10-foot room, where he has lived with his mother all of his life. His mother was abducted seven years prior, and the boy was born in the room.

Eventually, his mother sees a chance for them to escape and takes him with her to the outside world, where the truth about their life in the room is exposed.

The movie is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

15. Begin Again (2014)

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In this movie, the meeting of two individuals gives both a chance to fulfill their dreams. It is a meeting that changes both their lives and gives them the courage to start over.

Dan is fired from his job as a record executive. Meanwhile, Gretta is a singer/songwriter who has just broken up with her boyfriend. Dan convinces Gretta that they will produce and launch her album.

As the pair collaborate on Gretta’s album, both come to individual realizations about issues in their respective lives.

Dan fixes his issues by reconciling with his wife. Meanwhile, Gretta’s resolution is to walk away from a reconciliation with her ex-boyfriend.

Final Thoughts on Movies About Starting Over

There you have it—a collection of movies that provide hope of a fresh start.

Change is inevitable, and the best way to adapt is to expect that there will be moments in life when we need to let go of the familiar and embrace what the future has to offer.

Hopefully, this collection inspires you to see change as a good thing and feel excited about starting over.

If you are looking for more compilations of movies about specific topics, you might want to check out the following posts:

movies about starting over | top movies about starting over of all time | best movies about starting over