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20 Great Films About Loneliness That Are Worth Your Time

07 November 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Andrew Lowry

7. Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver

Frequently discussed as one of the best films ever made, Taxi Driver is Martin Scorsese’s 1976 masterpiece, set in a downright seedy and filthy backdrop of New York City. Teaming up with Robert De Niro again, the director made Taxi Driver into a character study of a lonely, misunderstood and temperamental young man.

Travis Bickle (De Niro) is an ex-marine, living alone in New York City and suffering from insomnia. Through his night-time occupation of taxi-driver, he witnesses the wretched and sickening city that he now lives in, which only fuels his already pent up rage.

When a newly found love interest quickly turns sour, Travis soon focuses his attention to a teenage prostitute (Jodie Foster) and tries to convince her to break free from her sexual slavery. As expected, the young girl’s pimp takes exception with this notion, leading to a disturbing and bloody finale, which includes our lead character’s transformation from an angry cab-driver to deranged executioner.

Arguably the best portrayal of urban alienation, Taxi Driver is an unforgettable and distressing movie that is powerfully enhanced by the incredible performance from the cast. A realistic and nightmarish portrait of a man’s mental deterioration, Taxi Driver contains some of the greatest and most iconic scenes ever filmed.

 

8. Paris, Texas (1984)

paris-texas-1986

The first of two film directed by Wim Wenders on this list brings us Paris, Texas. Starring the vastly underrated Harry Dean Stanton, this tender road trip movie is a touching, melancholic study of a man who, although years late, finally faces the people he so badly treated. Set in the American southwest, Wenders has created another emotional tale of alienation and withdrawal, supported by a great score.

Travis (Stanton) is a presumed dead, muted and resigned drifter who is on a quest to track down his wife and son that he abandoned 4 years ago. As he hopes to try and rebuild the relationships, the painful memories sharpen, as reflection of his actions hit hard. When the truth draws near for Travis, an emotional and powerful resolution awaits.

A thought-provoking and realistic tale of redemption, Paris, Texas is a lingering character development story with a poignant twist.

 

9. Wings of Desire (1987)

Wings Of Desire (1987)

The second film directed by Wim Wenders on this list, Wings of Desire is a slow-paced and poetic drama that tells the story of two invisible and eternal angels in Berlin, played by Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander. Primarily shot in black and white, we see how the world looks through the eyes of our angels, whilst also being able to hear the thoughts of the people in focus.

Damiel (Ganz) and Cassiel (Sander) are both angels that roam the beautiful city of Berlin, observing the actions and thoughts of their subjects of choice. When the angels begin to pay more attention to their preferred mortals, this causes Damiel to fall in love with a trapeze artist named Marion.

The more Damiel sees of Marion, the more he longs to renounce his immortality. This leads to a meeting with Peter Falk, playing himself, as an actor currently based in Berlin, who shares a bond with the angel. Things however do not go as smoothly for Cassiel and the two angels soon begin to drift their separate ways and a return to colour beckons for one.

Complete with a wonderful score, powerful film footage and a truly moving storyline, Wings of Desire is a romantic and profound love story, wonderfully directed by Wim Wenders.

 

10. Naked (1993)

naked

British director Mike Leigh is well known for displaying realistic scenes of an intense and uncompromising nature. His 1993 drama, Naked, is possibly his grimmest and most depressing account yet. David Thewlis stars, as Johnny, a troubled yet intelligent and well-educated young man, obviously suffering from a depression of some kind.

Johnny is seen as a wandering drifter, who flees his home town of Manchester, after a sickening sexual altercation in a back alley. When Johnny seeks refuge in his ex-partner Louise’s flat, based in London, it’s not long before we see the true side of this nihilistic, sarcastic and violent character. As the mood darkens even further, we watch as Johnny experiences more encounters with other fellow down and outs, which only intensifies the brutal and bitter atmosphere of this movie.

A desperately bleak ‘dark-comedy’, Naked is an extremely raw yet intelligent film that contains a career best performance from David Thewlis. A huge success at the Cannes festival in 93, Naked hits like an emotional juggernaut, and then some. You have been warned.

 

11. Three Colours: Blue (1993)

Three Colors Blue (1993)

Three Colours: Blue, the first instalment in Krzysztof Kieslowski’s amazing Three Colours Trilogy, is arguably the best and most famous of the three. Starring the brilliant Juliette Binoche, the film is captured in tones of Blue, that highlight the grief and suffering that our main character encounters.

After losing loved ones to a fatal car accident, Julie (Binoche) finds that the only way she can cope with her loss, is to completely disconnect with her past and start a new life on her own. The more Julie tries to isolate herself, the stronger the memories are returned, as characters both new and old invade her new beginning. As Julie’s self-imposed exile begins to fragment, events unfold that question her strength of character and her quest for liberation.

Sparse in dialogue and action, ‘Blue’ is a moving and painful observation of a woman emotionally devastated with bereavement. Whether through Binoche’s outstanding performance or the incredible musical vignettes, ‘Blue’ is simply a masterpiece in contemporary cinema.

 

12. Chungking Express (1994)

Chungking-express

Chungking Express is a 1994 Hong Kong romantic drama, directed by the great Wong Kar-Wai and stars Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Broken into two different segments, the film follows each main character and their melancholic journey in love, both past and present.

The first story shows Cop 223 (Kaneshiro) as a lovelorn and lonely policeman trying to get over a recent break up. After a planned period of recovery time, he feels ready to move on and almost immediately falls into the path of a particular femme fatale. We look on as an element of hope is given to Cop 223, however it may not be the opportunity he expected.

In the second story of the film, a new policeman is introduced as Cop 663 (Leung), a man also dealing with a breakup. After meeting a new love interest, albeit rather bizarrely, we watch as a charming relationship is formed, between the lonesome Cop 663 and a local snack-bar worker.

Wong Kar-Wai expertly displays the coincidences that link the two segments, despite the difference between the two. The first being a much darker, moody piece while the second plays at a much more relaxed and playful pace. Overall, Chungking Express is a stylistic and intoxicatingly beautiful film that will live long in the memory.

 

13. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

(1995) Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas is a despairing tale of two desperately lost souls and their struggles with addiction and loneliness. Nicolas Cage stars alongside Elizabeth Shue in this bleak portrait of a man and his crippling affliction with alcoholism.

The story opens with Ben (Cage), a man who has lost everything, his wife, his child and job. With his severance money he decides to travel to Las Vegas alone, where he can literally drink himself to death. Fate would have it that he would meet a prostitute named Sera (Shue), a young, intelligent woman not without her own problems but a considerate soul with her heart in the right place.

As they both accept each other for who they are, they develop a closeness that Sera in particular has always desired. With this bond evidently enhancing, a light appears at the end of the tunnel and for a brief moment in time a sense of opportunity appears and begs to be accepted. But with Ben in this much trouble, will it be a case of too little too late, in his self-loathing and tragic demise?

An intensely depressing love story, Leaving Las Vegas also contains probably the best performance from Nic Cage that we are ever likely to see. His portrayal of a man in the final stages of alcoholism was rightly recognised with an Oscar win and his onscreen chemistry with Shue, who should have received a win of her own, is a joy to behold in an otherwise grim story. Leaving Las Vegas is a dark yet dignified film that is both powerful and emotional.

 

 

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  • Pingback: Films About Loneliness | caitlindelves22()

  • James Davis
  • Tommy Surya Pradana

    Dude…what about One Hour Photo…?

    • Andrew lowry

      Good pick, however personally, i would not rate it higher than the films included.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      One Hour Photo demonized lonely people.

  • Pawel Kuropatwa

    What time is it there? by Tsai Ming-Liang. Lonliest characters ever, each one feels alienated and lost in their own way.

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  • Santiago

    Hey you missed a very important movie: Seul contre tous by Gaspar Noé

  • Tom Harding

    I think eternal sunshine could be considered a film about loneliness. After all, the majority of scenes are actually in Joel Parrish’s head.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      That was about relationships, not loneliness. Truman Show was the better pick.

  • Onanije Kitodržić

    What about The Conversation by Coppola? The main theme still haunts me from time to time…

    • Declan Harte

      You beat me to that very suggestion. Brilliant evocation of the lonely fastidiously studying details of other lives because, or perhaps consequentially of it, they have no recognizable life of their own…

    • Susie Caroline

      Loooooooooooove that movie.

  • Patrick Druhan

    Ordinary People, Crouching Tiger, Shane, Carnal Knowledge

  • David Morgan-Brown

    no I Stand Alone?! first time I’ve been disappointed by this site

  • Samuel Butler

    Earthling with William Holden.

    • Susie Caroline

      Ohhh!!! Loved that movie!

  • Herbert

    For me, the epitome of loneliness is Laitakaupungin valot from Kaurusmaki. Check it out.

    • lando

      +1

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  • Cassandra Atticum

    I would have added Moon, absolutely brilliant performance by Sam Rockwell. Essentially a one man play.

  • disqus_kOiQcyN7dK

    Three Colors: Red too…

  • disqus_kOiQcyN7dK

    Krótki Film o Milosci, one more from Kieslowski

  • Filipe Correia

    In my opinion there’s some films missing. One of them, and one of my favorite ever, Synecdoche, New York (2008).
    If the point is movies that shows how a human being can be lonely, even when surrended by other people, this movie it’s perfect in that aspect (and many others) 🙂

    • Vendetta

      Synecdoche is an untreated masterpiece, it’s true.

    • Lidianne Batystta

      YEEES

  • lando

    what about taiwan cinema? ming lianf or hsiao hsien.

  • Rahul Rathod

    you should have mentioned “Charulata” by Satyajeet Ray 🙁

  • Shruti

    I am surprised you missed out on Requiem for a Dream!

  • Zheng J

    The editor’s selection is a little too inclusive. Asian directors get a better touch about loneliness I think, Wong Kar Wai and Kim Ki-Duk are the masters of loneliness and melancholy.

  • Klaus Dannick

    Great to see Mike Leigh’s “Naked” on this list, but where’s “Citizen Kane”?

  • Rajarshi Banduri

    this list should have blow up 1966

  • I’d have added the German film, The Lives of Others.

    • Susie Caroline

      Good call!

  • Ron Geatz

    The other Bergman film I would add is his less-known “A Passion” (incorrectly titled “The Passion of Anna” in the U.S.) in which 4 people living on an island try desperately to break free of their loneliness.

  • A compilation of 101 films dealing with the themes of solitude, loneliness, and isolation

    http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/2015/04/101-films-dealing-with-themes-of.html

    • Doby Gillis

      Shameless self promotion. At Least have the balls to say that.

  • Cinema Phenomenology

    Additional suggestions – The Exorcist (1973), Up (2009), Drive (2011)

  • vir

    Buffalo 66!

  • Mondo

    The Green Ray

  • Arnaldo Fernandez

    Shame.

  • Piotr Grabowski

    How about ‘Fisher King” ?

  • Johann S.

    I think a lot of Yasujiro Ozu’s movies deal with loneliness. At least the fear of loneliness.

  • ladyofargonne

    A lot of these would be appropriate for a list of movies depressed people shouldn’t watch. In that light, Pink Floyd’s The Wall came to mind.

  • Purple ▼

    Lost in Translation is a real waste of time

    • Alex Nasaudean

      Your mental life is a desert…

      • Purple ▼

        🙁

    • Carl Edgar Consiglio

      Thats no criticism if you don’t tell us why you think so

  • Diego Alejandro Gutierrez Murc

    where is Billy Wilder`s the apartament ?

  • Patrick Hill

    I’ve seen but one on that list, and most will stay at 1 viewing, I doubt I could take the drain again. Visceral film making at its best.

  • warrenzoell

    How could you make a list like this and forget “The Pawnbroker” or
    “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner”?
    That’s like forgetting 2001 a space odyssey (another lonely film by the way) for best Sci Fi movies of all time.

    • Chris JJJ

      The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. I had never heard of that film until a few weeks ago, That title alone is enough to make me want to watch it.

      • Susie Caroline

        I hope you get to see it; it’s an excellent “angry young man” movie from the UK.

      • Vendetta

        you’ll be a bit disappointed Chris, the title is much better than the movie, IMHO.

    • Susie Caroline

      Oh, damn! I love TLOTLDR!

  • Gary Clure

    “The Fire Within” (1963) and “The Swimmer” (1968).

  • deadmoustache

    Nice list, but it would be nice to acknowledge that Solaris is a movie based on a book by the same title, written by Stanisław Lem, who wrote a great deal of (amazing) sci-fi books.

  • Diana Brown

    No Girl, Interrupted?

  • chris

    Jesus can film hipsters ever make a list that i dont know feature movies after segregation or something like fuck i dont wanna watch a movie from 1962 when the 2000s have great films

  • Frank N. Blunt

    Among some of my favorite films. Although some of these should consider the distinctions between loneliness, isolation, exclusions, remoteness, & solitude along with other conditions.

  • Carlos Felipe Soto Cortés

    No “Umberto D”!!!!… what are you thinking mate!!

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  • ttt

    Swiss Army Man is pretty brilliant movie dressed in surreal comedy

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  • Yvonne Ritson

    Magnolia should definitely be on here (with the infamous “one is the lonliest number”….)- and also 21 grams- annnndddd Leon. Possibly fight club, and Good Will Hunting.

  • Carl Edgar Consiglio

    The Shallows 🙂

    • Louiselle Pace Gouder

      an unstable person and abusive sex addict.

  • Anonymous

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower?

  • R.L. Smith

    Great list. I think Two Lane Blacktop (1971) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) would have also been worthy of consideration.

  • Castaway reminded me of:
    All Is Lost

  • Agitator

    I see many people adding movies that are really not about loneliness. Far too many movies have a protagonist that is lonely in one way or another. Such as Marty, or Punch Drunk Love. I think this is a good list.

    • Susie Caroline

      Yes!

  • It seems to be amazing.. I was googling for movie suggestions and found this.. I think now my weekend will be great..

  • the tedious rote of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

  • Bianca Elena

    I think we can mention in this list Shame, Das Leben der Anderen, Winter Light.

  • Susie Caroline

    I would also add ‘An Angel At My Table’. Extemely well done New Zealand film!

  • Hudson Wu

    Has anyone ever seen Buffalo 66? Vincent Gallo plays a deeply troubled man with a scarred childhood who is released from prison and then kidnaps a young girl (played by a young Christina Ricci). His performance is mesmerizing and you can really feel his pain and loneliness.

  • MnkyLv

    Diary of a Country Priest

  • Adrian
  • Matthew Miller

    Umberto D,

  • Ozz Wald

    I would add
    The Bothersome Man (2006)

  • Gravitynaut

    Synecdoche New York, It’s Such a Beautiful Day come to mind.

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  • Adithian Karuvannur

    Come on.. where’s ‘Requiem for a dream’?? This list is a crime! At least ‘Magnolia’??

  • Adithian Karuvannur

    I just despise that movie, Lost in translation. Bourgeois elitist crap.. *my opinion

  • Dmitry Knipper

    A good, thoughtful list. The subject also brings to my mind some of the Coen brothers’ lonely protagonists in Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn’t There and Inside Llewyn Davis.

  • Vendetta

    Castaway? Castaway?? Are you fucking kidding me? You must be a Millennial reviewer lol… the list was very good up to that point! And “Lost in Translation” is an embarrassment of a film. Try watching Nicholas Roeg’s “Castaway” then come back and rewrite your list!