‘Good Grief’ by Dan Levy is an emotional 2023 film following Marc’s loss of his husband as he grapples with overwhelming grief. Having married after the death of his mother, he had a strong emotional reliance on his partner. His friends, Sophie and Thomas, lend their shoulders to him in the toughest of times, and he decides to take them to Paris for a weekend getaway. Their journey paves the way for Marc to make peace with his pain and grief, feel the spark of a new romance, and have a life-affirming experience with his companions. There are a few other films like ‘Good Grief,’ that can navigate loss and grief with profound emotional depth while presenting an uplifting narrative.
8. All of Us Strangers (2023)
‘All of Us Strangers’ is a British film directed by Andrew Haigh that plays out in a surreal romantic tale. Adam is a closeted gay man who is haunted by the death of his parents at a young age. When he visits their family home years later, he meets them and has conversations with them about the past. Discussing their relationship, their acceptance of who he is, and reliving bittersweet childhood memories. Parallelly he develops a relationship with a neighbor, Harry, embracing a part of himself that he had kept hidden. The film takes up many of the themes discussed in ‘Good Grief,’ exploring loss, despair, coping mechanisms, acceptance, and moving on.
7. Aftersun (2022)
A poignant father-daughter tale of remembrance, ‘Aftersun’ recaptures Sophie’s treasured memories of spending a vacation with her father when she was eleven. They share a loving and idealistic time at a resort, ingraining the experience in her. However, in retrospect, she discerns troubling signs of a man dealing with a heavy burden, and toiling away emotionally at the edge of her vision.
Financial setbacks, a recent divorce, and the responsibility of fatherhood weigh on him. Yet he puts up a brave front for his daughter and sends her off to her mother after an enriching time. For those who found the emotional depth displayed in ‘Good Grief’ touching, ‘Aftersun,’ will be a tearful experience. Director Charlotte Wells poignantly portrays the delicate balance created in a parent-child relationship, maintained at any cost to shield young minds from the harsh realities inflicted upon them.
6. Rabbit Hole (2010)
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, ‘Rabbit Hole’ navigates the complex emotional landscape of grief following the loss of a child. Becca and Howie, a couple shattered by their son’s accidental death, grapple with their divergent coping mechanisms. Becca seeks solace in unexpected places, engaging with a teenage boy connected to her past, while Howie clings to reminders of their lost son.
As their relationship strains under the weight of their grief, they navigate therapy sessions and their interactions with others, each struggling to find a path through their sorrow. Similar to ‘Good Grief,’ the film delicately explores the intricacies of mourning, portraying the different ways individuals process and try to come to terms with unimaginable loss. It ultimately offers a poignant tale of healing and acceptance amidst tragedy.
5. Beaches (1988)
‘Beaches,’ directed by Garry Marshall, is an emotional drama centered on the lifelong friendship between two vastly different women, C.C. Bloom and Hillary Whitney. Their bond starts on the California coast during childhood, and despite their contrasting backgrounds and aspirations, their friendship grows deeper over the years. Bloom, a vivacious and aspiring entertainer, contrasts with the more reserved and affluent Hillary. Despite their individual trials and tribulations, their enduring friendship withstands the tests of time and distance.
The film poignantly showcases their enduring bond, triumphs, and heartbreaks as they navigate life’s challenges. ‘Good Grief’ sees its protagonist making it through the toughest time in his life because of his friends. ‘Beaches’ is a heartfelt tribute to the enduring power of friendship, and its immense power in helping one get through the tumultuous rollercoaster of life.
4. This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
‘This Is Where I Leave You,’ directed by Shawn Levy, is a poignant comedy-drama following the Altman family, brought together by the death of their patriarch. Judd (Jason Bateman) faces both the dissolution of his marriage and the loss of his father, prompting a reunion with his quirky and dysfunctional family for the traditional Jewish mourning period. As they gather under one roof, tensions and long-buried secrets surface, leading to a rollercoaster of emotions and rekindled relationships.
Amidst their grief, the family members confront personal issues, reignite old flames, and come to terms with the unpredictability of life. With humor and heartfelt moments, the film will appeal to those who appreciate the emotional wavelength of ‘Good Grief,’ delivering a healthy balance of poignant exploration with heartwarming moments of recovery. And what greater tool to recover from tragedy than laughing with family?
3. Demolition (2015)
‘Demolition,’ directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, is a compelling drama centered around Davis Mitchell (Jake Gyllenhaal), who faces a life-altering event after losing his wife in a tragic car accident. Unable to cope with his overwhelming grief, Davis starts an unconventional and cathartic process of self-destruction. He begins writing candid and detailed letters to a vending machine company, seeking solace and questioning the essence of his own existence.
As he delves deeper into his chaotic emotions, Davis forms an unlikely bond with a customer service representative named Karen (Naomi Watts). Their unconventional connection helps Davis unravel his suppressed feelings and confront the pain, propelling him on a journey of self-discovery, unexpected friendships, and the realization that sometimes breaking down is the only way to rebuild oneself. Like Marc in ‘Good Grief,’ Davis learns to process his grief, albeit in a different manner, taking time to understand his own emotions and accept them for what they are. Despite their contrasting coping mechanisms, both protagonists ultimately navigate loss with the help of friendship and emotional bonds.
2. God’s Own Country (2017)
‘God’s Own Country,’ helmed by director Francis Lee, is a thought-provoking and raw portrayal of self-discovery and love. The story revolves around Johnny Saxby, a young Yorkshire farmer who lives a life of isolation and emotional numbness on his family’s sheep farm. Johnny’s world shifts when Gheorghe, a Romanian migrant worker, is hired to assist during lambing season. Initially distant, Johnny’s guarded walls begin to crumble as he forms a deep bond with Gheorghe.
Through their growing connection and the visceral beauty of the Yorkshire countryside, Johnny learns to confront his repressed emotions. He finds solace, acceptance, and love amidst a world that had once seemed desolate. Much like in ‘Good Grief,’ the protagonist struggles to find his place in the world and heals through intimacy and an emotional bond, creating a stirring narrative.
1. A Single Man (2009)
Helmed by director Tom Ford, ‘A Single Man’ follows George Falconer, a British professor living in Los Angeles during the 1960s. George is grieving the death of his partner, Jim. Battling solitude and a profound sense of loss, George navigates a day that might be his last, contemplating suicide. Throughout this day, he encounters various people, including his close friend Charley and a student named Kenny, both of whom offer moments of connection and reflection.
The tragic film beautifully captures George’s internal struggles, portraying his yearning for love, identity, and purpose while grappling with social norms and acceptance. Fans of ‘Good Grief’ will find similar themes of loneliness, grief, and the pursuit of meaningful human connections in ‘A Single Man.’ Both stories begin with the protagonist grieving the loss of their partner and eventually coming to terms with reality through contemplation and bonds of companionship.