A bestselling author, screenwriter, and cancer survivor offers a filmography for all types of survivors during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
During times of sorrow, there are certain films that always help us to escape, at least for about ninety minutes.
Sometimes movies really are the best medicine. Here are my top picks.
Good for Recuperating from Accidents: Rear Window. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock and staring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. This film keeps you on the edge of your seat even though the hero can't walk. Stewart is a photographer with a bum leg and an overactive imagination. He's in a wheelchair and incapacitated but he's still the romantic hero, and he solves the crime with the help of his trusty binoculars and Grace's courage. Just goes to show, nothing keeps a good man from solving a bad murder, not even broken bones.
Good for Depression: Silver Linings Playbook. It's great to see that people as good-looking as Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence can be depressed, too. Watching them find love while learning to dance is somehow transporting. This hopeful, charming movie doesn't shy away from what it's like to have an emotional collapse. For once it's nice to have a hero and heroine who may look perfect, but have as many issues as real folks do.
Good for a Broken Marriage: War of the Roses. No matter how bad your marriage is, this one's worse. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner at the height of their nasty, sexy powers. This is a cautionary tale, and the message is: Let go or be crushed. You'll be so glad you're not married to them, despite their good looks, that you may even send your ex a postcard.
Good for Learning from Your Mistakes: Groundhog Day is a movie you can watch over and over again, and you'll still be amazed by how great Bill Murray is. His cynical weatherman sent to report on Punxsutawney Phil, learns how to be human by repeating a single day. His journey is entertaining and moving and hilarious all at the same time. The lessons Murray's character learns are ones meant for us all. In the end it all boils down to the more you give, the more you get back.
Good for Heartache: Moonstruck. The extraordinary Cher is matched with Nick Cage at his zaniest this tale of crazy romance. This is fairy-tale Brooklyn, featuring a full moon that affects everyone, and love that is totally unexpected. In this world love can happen anywhere, anytime, and no one is immune. Plus Cher delivers the best line in any romantic comedy: Snap out of it!
Good for Starting Over: Two for the Road. The gorgeous Audrey Hepburn is married to the equally gorgeous, but rough around the edges, Albert Finney in a road picture with a broken heart. The film is raw in getting to the core difficulties in a marriage, and the complications of knowing someone better than they know themselves. This couple hurt one another, accidentally and on purpose, and drive each other crazy. What kind of people act like this? Finney's character wants to know. Hepburn knows the answer: Married people.
Alice Hoffman is the author of 21 novels, including The Dovekeepers and the forthcoming The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Her inspirational nonfiction, Survival Lessons, was just released by Algonquin Books.