Not to open the list on too much of a sour note, but loneliness is just something that we all encounter from time to time. Whether it be separation from those we love, a feeling of not fitting in, or just a general feeling, loneliness can be one of the tougher emotions to be comfortable feeling, however, as with any emotion, the movies are always there to help us come to terms with these feelings, whether it be by showing us characters who feel the same way or by presenting something that simply manages to take the feeling away. Here are ten great films you can watch when you’re next feeling lonely, at least one of them are bound to help!
1. Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)
Maybe the most obvious choice of all of these for a film that is good to watch when lonely (right next to Jonze’s Her), Lost In Translation may be a massively predictable entry, but it has earned that reputation for good reason, being one of the best portrayals of the loneliness that can infect people even when they are surrounded by others.
Chronicling the intimate friendship created between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson whilst they’re in Tokyo, leading up to some of the most gently touching moments in twenty first century cinema and then one of the most infamously agonising enigmatic endings ever put to screen, Lost In Translation is a stripped back and simplistic film that doesn’t seem concerned about much other than supplying the emotion and the intimacy between the characters.
The chemistry between the two leads is second to none, starting off strong and ending at the point where it feels as though the characters are as genuine as they could possibly be, making for one of the more touching films about loneliness made recently. Interestingly, Sofia Coppola would go on to make another film on the subject of loneliness despite fame in Somewhere, arguably a better film, though this one is much easier to recommend to just about anybody.
2. Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi, 1997)
Iranian cinema is hard to come by, but almost always more than worth the time investment. Majid Majidi’s gorgeous Children of Heaven is no exception. To keep it frank, this is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, following a brother’s quest to help his sister after he loses her shoes.
Though it definitely isn’t always completely peachy, with some surprisingly harsh scenes spread throughout, the positive energy more than outweighs the bad here, especially in the observation of the bond that comes from family and the beautiful childlike innocence from the children in the film.
The use of colour is also magical, and so welcoming, with the vibrancy working as a way to see the world from the perspective of the characters in such a simple yet intimate and effective way. The ending is one of the best of all time, simultaneously overwhelmingly charming and brilliantly frustrating/upsetting.
3. My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
A Ghibli film was bound to show up on here somewhere, and why not make it one of their most popular, and one of their most charming films? It’s difficult to try to capture the incredible charm that My Neighbour Totoro has, it’s stunning how quickly the beauty manages to creep up on the unassuming audience, largely thanks to Miyazaki’s gorgeous animation and creativity.
Miyazaki has said many times that he tries to make his films charming to try to remind children that life is always worth living for the little things, and sometimes that’s exactly the kind of message that people need to be reminded of.
Many of the different Ghibli titles could be in its place, but My Neighbor Totoro will always hold a special place in the hearts of many, and came to mind before literally any other film when thinking of what to include here, so it had to have the spot in the end.
4. Good Will Hunting (Gus Van Sant, 1997)
A trigger warning is necessary here considering that some of the content in Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting is quite difficult to sit through, and the fact that it stars Robin Williams admittedly doesn’t help at times (though he is just excellent here, maybe his heartiest performance, though it’s hard to say with there being so many), but Good Will Hunting is one of the better films about overcoming past struggle.
Whilst it is quite cheesy at a few points, the leading performances by Matt Damon and Robin Williams are just incredible, and the film feels more than sincere in the statement that it is trying to make.
Featuring music from Elliott Smith, direction by Gus Van Sant and both Casey and Ben Affleck in supporting roles, the cast and crew certainly have a lot to offer in terms of talent, and the film itself acts as a truly consoling work. Most of you are probably well aware of this one, but it still has its charm, that’s for sure.
5. How Green was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)
Whilst John Ford is likely known more among film fans s a director of westerns, and admittedly he does make some of the greatest, it’s actually in his dramatic work that his versatility really shows, pulling back from the beautiful landscapes and fun cowboy characters and working on a series of family dramas, including How Green Was My Valley (which won the best picture award from Citizen Kane at the time!), The Quiet Man and the even more overlooked The Long Gray Line (maybe the best of the bunch, but it’s hard to say – seek this one out if you can!).
How Green Was My Valley also focuses on a family, through the lens of Huw Morgan, the youngest child, as the Morgan family try to provide the best life possible for their children in a mining town.
The heart of the film comes in the overall atmosphere, that of a sentimental, nostalgic, homely nature that will remind almost anyone of growing up in the best of ways, and also in the small moments, like how Huw’s family offer to help him with school when he comes back from the first day having been attacked, and his later triumph over the same group, as well as the gorgeous cinematography (another trademark of Ford’s dramas, something he carried over brilliantly from his westerns).
It’s one of the most beautiful films of all time, both in spirit and in the image itself, and it’s one that absolutely everybody should see – it won over Citizen Kane for a reason.