6. One From The Heart (Francis Ford Coppola, 1982)
Despite the fact that a lot of it focuses on the break-up blues, Francis Ford Coppola’s often overlooked musical One From The Heart is one of the best films ever made. That may not sound too convincing, however, with the addition of music from the always excellent Tom Waits and some of the most conspicuous set design ever put to screen, blasting with vibrant colours and exaggerated shapes, it’s almost too easy to fall under the dramatic spell that this one casts.
Detailing the day (and an extra morning) after a break-up seen at the start of the film, Coppola’s film is shockingly different from his previous work in the 1970s making the leap from sprawling epics to something that has such a personal feeling to it that it’s difficult to explain, but of course he manages to make the shift seem trivial anyway. It won’t be a film for everyone, some will be too distracted from the story and characters by the intensely over the top visuals, but hey, so long as it works for someone.
7. Terms of Endearment (James L. Brooks, 1983)
With one of the best casts ever put to screen (no surprise when you realise that James L. Brooks is behind the camera, the man seems to be able to acquire any number of talented performers), Terms of Endearment is simply about growing up, following the Greenway family and those who they interact with over their entire lifetimes (okay, there are big leaps at the start and the majority takes place during Emma’s adulthood, but the childhood and teenage moments are undeniably there).
Having such a large scope, of course, there is a huge range of emotions encountered throughout, loneliness even being one of them specifically for Shirley MacLaine’s character in the first half until she becomes more acquainted with Jack Nicholson’s brilliant astronaut character, Garrett Breedlove. (Seriously, one of Nicholson’s best performances, he manages to hit the nail on the head for everything from the insane drunk to the hurt and betrayed. it’s a wonder watching him perform here.)
All that being said, there’s also a great camaraderie here between the characters, each having their own quirks and their own chemistry with one another, like the comedy that come from the relationship between Jeff Daniels and Shirley MacLaine when MacLaine becomes his mother-in-law. This film is incredibly memorable, just as uplifting as it is heartbreaking, wonderfully acted (with one of the best ensemble casts…ever?), and it should be seen by anybody, lonely or not.
8. Life is Sweet (Mike Leigh, 1990)
Hopping over to Britain for a minute, Mike Leigh’s Life is Sweet is another film that focuses on the relationships between a group of characters and is more focused on just observing their interactions and their character quirks as opposed to creating turmoil and tension through the plot development.
Leigh is, of course, well known for his films focusing on dialogue and character rather than plot, and this film may just be the prime example of this style, with barely any plot other than a few vague strands that are only really there to force the characters into additional interaction with one another.
With a terrific cast who all have impressive chemistry with one another, Leigh’s film is touching, tender, hilarious and upsetting all at once, with just the right amount of conflict fuelled and wholesome interaction to match the perfect level and make it a pleasant experience. As much as almost any Leigh film could go here, with a few exceptions, Life is Sweet may just be his most pleasing films, and it’s one bound to help anyone feeling alone.
9. The Koumiko Mystery (Chris Marker, 1965)
The shortest and the most obscure film on this list, Chris Marker’s short documentary about a friend he made – the titular Koumiko – whilst in Tokyo, making a film about the olympics there is just beautiful.
Making the audience feel involved in the friendship in a way that so few films really manage to do, The Koumiko Mystery is one of the most easily enjoyable short documentaries out there, despite some of the subject matters.
With so many intricate quirks to it that only serve to make the bond between Marker, Koumiko and the audience that little bit stronger and that little bit more personal, it’s one of the most memorable representations of friendship, especially long distance friendships, with Marker’s wonderfully curious camera capturing stunning images of Tokyo, the people there, and Koumiko herself, and even a few scenes of back and forth dialogue between the two about what they have been doing, creating this adorable pen pal relationship that is shared in such an innocent and guileless way to the audience, with Koumiko at one point narrating a letter of questions and answers that she sent to Marker.
There is something so intimate in this film’s simplicity, being certainly the most laid back film of the bunch here in terms of film form, that just lets the audience naturally observe this friendship, welcoming them to feel the same bond that the characters do for each other. Whilst very difficult to find, it was recently shown on Le Cinema Club, and should hopefully be making its way around a little bit now.
10. A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)
This film just had to have a spot here, because what better for someone feeling lonesome than to find a film that they can easily become completely immersed in? And, furthermore, are there many films more immersive than Edward Yang’s sweeping masterpiece A Brighter Summer Day?
Released in 1991, focusing on Xiao S’ir, played by Chang Chen in one of the finest child performances ever, if not the finest… it’s seriously impressive, as he grows up in Taiwan during the 1960s, encountering just about everything that a child could hope (or not) to encounter throughout their childhood/teenage years. It’s just stunning, difficult to describe as the four hour runtime is just so incredibly enveloping and immersive, but it has to be seen to be believed.
When feeling lonely, or when in any mood, grab a copy, make some (or a lot of…) time, pop it in and lose yourself in this incredible world for the next four hours. You won’t regret it.