11 Best Movies about Dealing with Loneliness and Isolation
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There are times when you’d rather be alone for a while and detach yourself from the world.
You know that it isn’t easy to be lonely and isolated, but you still feel the need to be alone for a while.
As it turns out, it’s possible to get that alone feeling without completely alienating yourself.
This article provides a list of the best movies about loneliness and isolation. If you want a bird’s eye view of what loneliness and isolation feel like without actually going through it, you can simply watch these movies.
Let’s check them out!
What You Will Learn
Have you ever gone abroad and felt like you were lost in translation? This film is all about those feels.
Lost in Translation is a 2003 movie starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson. It tells the story of a middle-aged American movie star named Bob Harris (Murray) who goes to Tokyo for a whiskey commercial shoot. Although he is already past his prime, he has been given this high-paying endorsement because of the fame that his name carries.
While staying at an upscale hotel, he meets a fellow American named Charlotte (Johansson), a young Yale philosophy graduate who is staying in Tokyo with her photographer husband. Just like Bob, she feels a little “lost” about the things that have been happening in her life, and feels like she needs to take a break and unwind.
What makes this film suitable for those who are experiencing loneliness and isolation is the performances of the two stars. Both Harris and Charlotte feel trapped, and that makes them very relatable. Going into a foreign country where no one seems to care about who you are or what you do really makes you ask, “Have I been living the way I want to?”
Her is a movie that depicts the life of a person who has lived most of his time alone. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore Twombly and Scarlett Johansson as the AI system Samantha, and was written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. The storyline came from an idea Jonze had after reading a website article about instant messaging through the use of artificial intelligence.
The movie is set in Los Angeles, where Twombly lives as a lonely and depressed man who works as a professional writer for people who are unable to write their own letters. Due to his loneliness, he purchases an operating system that has a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence. He named her Samantha.
Theodore develops then a sense of dependence on and infatuation toward Samantha. Fascinated by how much the AI can learn, his feelings intensify after a verbal sexual encounter with her. The infatuation turns into love, as Samantha seems like a real person who is capable of developing emotions. However, Theodore eventually begins to realize that Samantha will never be able to experience real emotions.
The movie started with a limited release, but it later received world-wide acclaim. It even garnered several awards and nominations, including Best Original Screenplay during the 86th Academy Awards. In a BBC poll conducted in 2016, it was listed as one of the greatest films since the year 2000.
Here is another Spike Jonze film that helps you understand loneliness and isolation. Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy-adventure movie starring Max Records, Paul Dano, and Catherine O’Hara. The story is based on a 1963 children’s book of the same title written by Maurice Sendak.
The story revolves around a young boy named Max who has a vivid and active imagination, but is also a bit of a troublemaker. One day, his sister’s friends do something foolish, and Max starts throwing a fit. Realizing that his mother does not care, and that perhaps nobody really ever cared, he runs away wearing his wolf costume. He ends up entering a world in his imagination where all the wild things are.
This movie is a bit underrated and was a box office bomb, barely breaking even. But many experts and movie buffs recommend it, saying that it was not given enough credit. If you give it a try, you might discover how loneliness can actually be a tool to boost your imagination and creativity.
Blue is a part of the film trilogy Three Colours (Blue, White, and Red). It was co-written and directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, a renowned, Polish film director and screenwriter whose other famous works include Dekalog and The Double Life of Veronique. The film stars Juliette Binoche as Julie, a woman who isolates herself from the world after losing her husband and child in a car accident.
The story revolves around “liberty,” as inspired by the French Revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The film starts with Julie wanting to free herself from her old life and personal commitments. She wants to numb herself from all the pain brought by the accident, and withdraws from the world to live in solitude.
As the story progresses, however, Julie can’t stay isolated because the people from her past keep communicating with her. In addition, she meets new people who genuinely care for and support her. She realizes that forgetting her past might not be the solution to her problem, so she starts to heal herself and reconnect with the world.
We highly recommend this movie for those who have reached the point of loneliness that indulges in isolation and solitude. This movie can help you realize that there are many reasons to be happy, even if the world seems to have abandoned you. Time can heal all wounds, as can the people who sincerely care for you.
Solaris is a 2002 science-themed drama about a fictional planet called “Solaris.” It is a remake of a 1972 film of the same title, and the story is based on a novel that also bears the same name, written by Stanislaw Lem. Like most science-fiction drama, the movie is set in a futuristic world where psychology, physiology, and other elements collide.
The film stars George Clooney as Dr. Chris Kelvin. He is sent to an isolated space station that orbits a mysterious, new planet called Solaris. Dr. Kelvin discovers the existence of an unfathomable power that can enter and affect mankind’s dreams and nightmares. While on the job, he experiences strange phenomena that make him see and remember his dead wife, Rheya.
The loneliness being talked about in this story is related to depression and suicide. It explains how our dreams, emotions, and imaginations can sometimes intensify our deepest desires and wishes. Loneliness can sometimes trigger things that we would rather not think about, but when the feeling becomes too much, we often choose to give in.
We recommend this movie to those who want to learn how to control these thoughts. If you have a loved one who is considering living in isolation, this might be a good film to watch with them.
For those who like old-school, black-and-white films, this movie is a great choice. Wild Strawberries is a 1957 film starring Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, and Gunnar Björnstrand. It is a Swedish film that is set in Sweden, where the wild strawberries are.
Sjöström plays the widowed, 78-year-old Dr. Isak Borg, who is living in independence and isolation. He lives alone for two reasons—first of all, because he wants to, and second of all, because people are not particularly fond of his cold demeanor. Being a medical doctor, he is invited to receive an honorary degree in his hometown, Stockholm. Instead of taking a plane, he decides to go on a road trip with his daughter-in-law, who is also on her way home.
As the drive and the story progress, he remembers his childhood experiences and how his life unfolded. He re-evaluates his life and starts to accept his flaws and regret his past decisions, while also beginning to appreciate the good that life has brought him. He meets different people while on the road, and these people are able to help him look back, reminisce, and feel both sorry and grateful at the same time.
We love this film because the story and the performance of the actors are great. If you are looking for a wonderfully satisfying movie, check out Wild Strawberries.
7. Cast Away
If you have ever wondered how it feels to be the survivor of a plane crash and survive on an uninhabited island, then you are in for a treat with this movie.
Cast Away is a survival drama film starring Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, and Nick Searcy. It earned Hanks a Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama category award during the 2001 Golden Globe Awards, and also earned Alan Silvestri the Best Instrumental Composition award during the 2002 Grammy Awards.
As excellent as it is performance-wise, this movie also has a brilliant storyline. It tells the story of a FedEx troubleshooter who gets stranded on a deserted island in the South Pacific after a fatal plane crash. The plot revolves around the circumstances he has to face in his attempt to survive and find his way back home.
While the movie emphasizes survival, it also depicts what it is like to be alone in an unfamiliar place.
Into the Wild is another survival-style movie but this one doesn’t involve an accident. It is the story of Christopher McCandless, also known as Alexander Supertramp, who crossed the North American mountains and entered the Alaskan wilderness in the 1990s.
McCandless had always longed for freedom and solitude, and after graduating college he decided to start traveling, believing that it was the only way to achieve ultimate happiness. He traveled on until he reached the wilderness of Alaska.
As he begins to live life alone and experiences several disasters, he ultimately realizes that happiness is actually found in the warmth of others. He starts missing his family, his home, and all of the people who love and care for him.
This movie is based on a biography of the same name written by Jon Krakauer. Although it has a bit of a sad ending, it is still one of the best movies about loneliness because it teaches us that life is happier when shared with others.
Sam Bell is an astronaut who is on a mission to study a certain helium gas on the far side of the moon. He is under a three-year contract that requires him to spend his time researching in solitude. But as he nears the end of the contract, he experiences a personal crisis that has the potential to drive him mad.
Moon is a 2009 film set in the future. It is directed by Duncan Jones and written by Nathan Parker, and stars Sam Rockwell as Sam Bell and Kevin Spacey as Gerty, Sam’s robot companion. This movie had a humble budget but enjoyed international success and was positively reviewed by critics.
This movie takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It has a touch of drama and action, plus a little bit of horror and comedy at the same time. But what we love the most about it is its ability to convey deep emotions. The movie’s story and the actors’ excellent performances demonstrate what it is like to live alone in a desolate place.
10. The Shining
This movie is a bit different from the others on this list. It is a psychological horror film that tells the story of an aspiring author turned monstrous murderer.
In the story, aspiring writer Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) takes his wife and son to a hotel in Colorado where he has accepted a job as a caretaker. While in the hotel, they all start to encounter a series of unfortunate events after Jack receives a gift called “the shining.” This gift allows Jack to see the hotel’s horrible past through psychic abilities.
Because of his new abilities, Jack’s loses his sanity and starts experiencing supernatural occurrences. He is possessed by the soul of the previous caretaker, who killed himself and his family during a cold winter night. Enchanted by this spirit, Jack starts stalking through the hotel, playing “hide and seek” with his wife and son.
Chungking Express is a romantic, crime, and comedy-drama film that was originally shot and released in Hong Kong. It received wide-world acclaim and took home tons of awards and nominations. Some of its most notable awards include Best Actress (Faye Wong) during the 1994 Stockholm International Film Festival and Best Actor (Tony Leung) during the 1994 Golden Horse Awards.
The story revolves around two policemen contemplating their broken relationships with the women in their lives. The first story is about He Qiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who gets dumped by his girlfriend and eventually meets a drug smuggler without a name who always wears a blonde wig. The second story is about another policeman, Cop 663, who recently broke up with his flight attendant girlfriend, but then meets Faye, a snack bar attendant.
Chungking Express is a story of “love, loss, and memory through the romance of goods.” It is about love, but also so much more. It is a masterpiece that not everyone will appreciate, but, as Roger Ebert said, “a film like this is largely a cerebral experience: you enjoy it because of what you know about the film, not because of what it knows about life.”
Isolation may be unpleasant at times, but they can also give you a sense of peace and tranquility. While loneliness is often associated with pain and a lack of social connection, it can also be a tool to help you realize where your happiness truly lies.
We hope that the list we shared above was able to help you understand what loneliness feels like. We don’t suggest isolating yourself from the world, but we also don’t believe that loneliness is an entirely negative experience.