Movies about loneliness are not very common and are not easy to make. Since they need accurate facts and must deal with the subject of mental health delicately.
Loneliness is a feeling that many of us have felt at some point in our life. Especially, in the current time, many people are facing loneliness due to the pandemic and other issues.
Times can be very tough when a person is lonely, he can even fall prey to depression, social anxiety, and many more severe mental issues. People going through a phase of loneliness feel helpless and demotivated. It can also potentially lead them to illogical or harmful behavior.
People going through loneliness constantly search for an escape and there is no better way of escaping reality than movies.
There are many movies about loneliness that prove to be helpful and relatable for millions of people.
These movies can prove to be helpful when they realistically portray mental health and change their outlook on life. Not only are these movies helpful for people suffering from depression but also people whose loved ones are facing it.
In this article, we will list down the top 18 movies which deal with the subject of loneliness or alienation.
List of 18 Movies about Loneliness
We have carefully picked movies for this list that have the central theme revolving around loneliness and isolation. The genre may be different but they all have a protagonist who is doused in self doubt and loneliness.
So, let’s dive right into the list.
18. Her (2013)
Her is an award winning cinematic masterpiece, directed by Spike Jonze. It stars Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johansson in lead roles.
The story of the film revolves around a man named Theodore who is lonely in the final stages of his divorce.
He works as a letter writer but after work, he spends most of his day alone by either playing video games or chatting with strangers online.
Her is set in a futuristic timeline where an operating system named OS1, which is advertised as the world’s first artificially intelligent operating system is recently released.
We follow Theodore as he forms an odd connection with this operating system, which is engineered to cater to his every need.
Joaquin Phoenix has done an incredible job portraying a man as he goes through the different stages of grief—ultimately accepting his fate and letting go of his past.
The movie beautifully deals with the subject of loneliness.
It may be considered as some sort of science fiction tale but it feels like a realistic take on our future and portrays emotion beautifully.
This movie tackles the subject of grief and loneliness with perfection. Her is truly a rollercoaster of emotion.
17. Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is a movie released in 2003 and is directed by Sofia Cappola. It stars Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson as protagonists.
It depicts the story of Bob Harris, a middle aged American movie star who travels to Tokyo for a whiskey commercial shoot.
He has been offered this high paying endorsement owing to his name’s popularity, even though he is past his prime.
He meets Charlotte, a young Yale philosophy graduate who is visiting Tokyo with her photographer husband while staying at a fancy hotel. She, like Bob, feels a little lost about what has been going on in her life and feels the need to relax and decompress.
The people who are living far away from their homes will be able to relate to this masterpiece. They will be able to see themselves in both of the actors.
The cinematography and pacing of the movie are incredible. It even won an academy award for the best original screenplay due to the movie’s brilliant writing.
Lost in Translation is one of the finest examples of movies based on the subject of feeling irrelevant and lonely.
16. Into the Wild (2007)
Movies about loneliness usually portray a character who is some sort of a social outcast and is rejected by society.
Into the Wildis an opposite take on that trope. Directed by Sean Penn, this movie is based on the real life experiences of Chris McCandless.
Christopher McCandless left his luxurious life and promising future at the age of 19 in the 1990s to become a back to nature wanderer. He meets a variety of adventures and people along the road that will all impact him in a unique and meaningful way.
The whole movie deals with the topic of self discovery and how important it is to isolate yourself from the world sometimes.
Emile Hirsch gives a strong performance as Christopher McCandless. His soulful acting will definitely have a long lasting impact on you.
When it comes to making movies with loneliness as its subject, Into the Wild is a very unique film but in a good way. It has many heartfelt moments that will leave you in tears.
15. Cast Away (2000)
Cast Away is another movie that deals with the subject of being lonely in a literal sense.
Robert Zemeckis has directed this film and Tom Hanks portrays the main protagonist.
The film’s plot revolves around FedEx systems engineer Chuck Noland, who has his life snatched from him due to an unfortunate event. He wakes up alone on the beach of a tropical island after a plane crash. He is frustrated at first, but then he understands how little his odds of ever returning home are.
Chuck has learned to survive on his own after four years: repairing his dental health, catching fish with a spear, and predicting the weather using a self-made calendar. All these years, an image of his love Kelly has kept his dreams alive. Finally, Chuck seizes the opportunity to return home, when a wooden boat washes ashore.
This film, as good as it is in terms of acting, also has a fantastic narrative.
While the film centers around survival, it also reflects what it’s like to be alone in a foreign environment.
If you want a simple movie to watch then you should give it a watch.
14. The Lighthouse (2019)
The Lighthouseis a dark, dramatic, psychological film with some elements of horror. It is directed by Rober Eggers and stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe in lead roles.
The story of this movie is set in the late 19th century when a timberman by the name of Ephraim Winslow is allocated to a lighthouse as a lighthouse keeper for 4 weeks.
However, he is not the only one there. The lighthouse is under the supervision of Thomas Wake, an old and grumpy man.
While living on this isolated and mysterious New England island, two lighthouse keepers struggle to preserve their sanity.
The whole production design of the movie is based around the theme of loneliness and a monotonous routine. You may feel claustrophobic because that is what the director’s intention may be.
At some instances in the movie, it feels like they are not the only men stuck on the island but the viewer is also stuck with them.
It is shot on a vintage black and white lens, making it aesthetically stand out.
The movie has some very intense moments, which are delivered powerfully by both of the actors.
13. Taxi Driver (1976)
Taxi Driver is a crime thriller movie directed by Martin Scorcese. It stars Robert de Niro and Judie Foster in lead roles.
The film’s story is focused around Travis Bickle, a mentally traumatized ex marine who just returned to New York City after the Vietnam war.
He takes up a job as a nighttime cab driver who constantly, almost obsessively, contemplates the ugliness of life around him and gets more troubled by his loneliness and alienation.
He is an outcast in virtually every aspect of his life and is unable to form emotional connections with anybody.
Travis can not sleep night after night, so he goes to the local pornographic emporiums for entertainment and begins to dream about escaping his bleak existence.
This movie deals with the subject of loneliness as well as the horrors of war, faced by many soldiers when they return to the real world, away from all the sound of gunfire.
The direction is very beautiful as well as the narrative. It is a must watch for all cinema lovers.
12. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Where the Wild Things Areis an adventure movie directed by Spike Jonez.
We follow a little child named Max, who has a vivid imagination and has become bitter because he feels neglected.
Max walks away from home after a dispute with Claire (his sister) and her friends, as well as a meltdown he has as a result of his Mother giving more attention to her boyfriend than to him.
Max, dressed as a wolf at the moment, flees physically and mentally to a place in his imagination.
This planet, located over the ocean, is home to huge wild creatures, including one named Carol, who has a temper similar to Max’s.
The wild things befriend Max after he proclaims himself a king who can miraculously fix all of their issues, rather than eating him as they normally would with someone like him.
This movie has many levels of emotions and can be relatable for people of all ages, even though some people might mistake it for a kid’s movie.
The director Spike Jonez has dealt with the subject of loneliness before in his movies and Where the Wild Things Are is a similar example of his understanding of that subject.
11. Coraline (2009)
Coraline is directed by Henry Sellick, who has also directed A Nightmare Before Christmas. It is an animated movie that is based on a book written by Neil Gaiman.
Coraline is the protagonist of this film as she and her family move to an old house where she feels bored and ignored by her parents.
She discovers a concealed door that leads to a bricked up corridor. She crosses the passage in the middle of the night and discovers a parallel world where everyone has buttons instead of eyes, compassionate parents, and all of her fantasies come true.
Coraline refuses the Other Mother’s invitation to stay in her world forever and discovers that the parallel reality in which she is bound is really a trick to lure her.
The movie is very well written and is entertaining to watch. It has a very relatable character in the form of Coraline, who is feeling isolated and invisible.
It has the message that no matter what happens we should never try to escape our problems and deal with them bravely.
10. Barton Fink (1991)
Barton Fink is a period drama film set in 1940’s Hollywood. It is directed and written by the Coen Brothers. It stars John Turturro in the titular character.
This movie is a character study of a writer named Barton Fink, a New York intellectual playwright, who arrives in Hollywood in 1941 to write a Wallace Beery wrestling film.
However, Barton suffers from severe writer’s block while staying at the spooky Hotel Earle. While his neighbor, a humorous insurance salesman Charlie Meadows, tries to help him overcome his creative block but Barton continues to struggle as a peculiar series of occurrences further diverts him from his task.
This movie about loneliness also deals with the struggle that many artists or creative workers face called a creative block. Since artists are usually people who get inspired by people and nature, artistic bankruptcy is a result of loneliness.
Some artists even push themselves to a path of self destruction which proves the severity of this condition. Nevertheless, Barton Fink beautifully deals with this subject.
9. Joker (2019)
Joker is a movie based on the all time popular DC Comics character of the same name. It is a modern take on that character. This movie is directed by Todd Phillips.
The movie stars Joaquin Phoenix, Robert de Niro, and Zazie Beetz in lead roles.
The plot of Joker centers around Arthur Fleck, a struggling stand up comedian who suffers from a variety of mental problems, one of which causes him to laugh uncontrollably when he is uncomfortable and frequently puts him in dangerous situations.
Arthur just wants to be liked by others, but his mental illness causes practically everyone in society to reject and look down on him.
Arthur’s life spirals out of control as he is severely abused and his medication is taken away, leading to delusions, violence, and chaos until he eventually transforms into Gotham’s famed Clown Prince of Crime.
Joker not only highlights the issue of self isolation and social anxiety but also the importance of mental health awareness.
Even though it is a comic book movie, its mature subject, and beautiful cinematography, have made it a favorite among many cinephiles.
8. Birdman or “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” (2014)
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a drama movie directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. It stars Micheal Keaton, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Emma Stone in leading roles.
Birdman’s plot revolves around Riggan Thomson who is an actor who has played the popular superhero “Birdman” for more than 20 years.
Now in his forties, he’s making his Broadway debut, directing “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” a play based on a Raymond Carver novel.
He will play out the show previews with the help of his assistant and daughter Sam, as well as his producer Jake.
Even when a talented actor he hired, Mike Shiner, acts arbitrarily, the internal issues between him and the other casts, his useless maximum efforts to critics, and the unexpected voices of his old character- the Birdman, all conspire to push his sanity until the first debut show.
Birdman is another character study that deals with the exploration of one’s self after spending years behind the mask of another personality.
It is a complex movie and it requires multiple viewings.
7. The Conversation (1974)
The Conversation is a mystery thriller directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film stars Gene Hackman and Harrison Ford.
The movie centers around a man named Harry Caul, a surveillance expert who has the ability to bug people at any time and from any location.
His business is his life because he lives in isolation. He captures a young couple conversing at a park in San Francisco one day.
When he’s eventually able to piece together the full conversation, he quickly recognizes that something isn’t quite right about this couple’s discussion.
Caul rushes against time to seek out the truth before the pair is slain by whoever is behind this murder plot, fearing that they are being targeted by someone who wants them dead.
As his inquiry gets him closer to the truth, his friendship with fellow detectives deteriorates and he becomes more and more paranoid.
He has a hard time differentiating between reality and fiction.
The Conversation depicts how loneliness can affect a person’s mental state so much so that he considers himself unsafe from the world and goes paranoid.
6. Moon (2009)
Moon is a Sci-fi movie directed by Duncan Jones. It stars Sam Rockwells as the protagonist.
The story revolves around Sam Bell, an astronaut, who is nearing the conclusion of his three-year contract to harvest Helium-3, a valuable energy source, from the moon’s far side.
Barely weeks before he is meant to return home, isolation begins to take an unsettling toll on his mind, because his sole connection with the earth is through pre recorded messages and his only helper is a computer named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey).
This sets off a chain of events that reveals the dreadful reality behind his mission.
This is another one of the movies that deals with loneliness in a literal manner. It shows the effects of isolation on a person’s mind.
5. 127 Hours (2010)
127 is a movie based on a real-life occurrence in the life of Aron Ralston. It is directed by Danny Boyle and stars James Franco in the lead role.
The film is based on a true story of a mountain climber named Aron Ralston who attempts to save himself when a rock crushes his arm and locks him in a remote canyon in Utah.
Ralston evaluates his life and survives the elements for five days, eventually discovering he has the bravery and resources to save himself. He has to scale a 65 foot wall and hike almost eight miles before being rescued.
Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his injury throughout his trek.
The fact that this movie is based on real-life events makes it more impactful. We see a real human struggling with loneliness and many mental and physical injuries.
It is a well made film and you should give it a watch if you are struggling with loneliness. It will change your outlook on life.
4. Three Colors: Blue (1994)
Three Colors: Blue is a french film and part of a trilogy. It is directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, a renowned French director. The movie has received several awards.
It is the first installment in Kieslowski’s trilogy about France’s national motto, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
We follow Julie, an accomplished composer, who loses her husband and her young daughter due to a vehicle accident.
Julie’s attempt to start life over, free of personal obligations, belongings, sadness, or love, embodies the film’s subject of liberation.
She plans to numb herself by isolating herself from society and living fully independently, anonymously, and in solitude in Paris.
People from her past and present lives interfere with their wants, despite her best intentions.
However, a surprise discovery was made by the reality generated by those that care for her.
Three Colors: Blue is a beautiful tale of self-discovery and setting yourself free from the burden of the world.
3. Wild Strawberries (1957)
Wild Strawberries is a Swedish film directed by Ingmar Bergman. It is considered a classic by many cinema fans.
The protagonist of this movie is an old man who is forced to reflect upon his lonely lifestyle because the road trip helps him find a new perspective on life.
The movie’s plot revolves around Dr. Isak Borg, a respected physician, and researcher, who is 78 years old. His life has left him cold, alienated, and uncaring. He is on his way to receive an honorary degree from a university due to his life’s work.
Finding himself reminiscing about his past, particularly his 20s, while driving with his daughter-in-law Marianne, who is currently estranged from his son Ewald. He has also been having nightmares that remind him of who he’s become and what the future holds for him.
If you haven’t seen it already then go see it, you will not regret it.
2. Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Manchester by the Sea is a movie directed and written by Kenneth Lonergan. It features Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges in lead roles.
Manchester by the Sea deals with the subject of grief and how it makes a person feel alienated.
The plot follows Lee Chandler, a sulky and unhappy handyman who is antisocial and has minimal emotion in his life.
Lee learns that his older brother Joe has died of a heart attack. It is then revealed that Lee has been named the sole guardian of his nephew named Patrick.
As Lee and Patrick readjust to their new lifestyle, Lee must also address his troubled history, which has kept him away from both his wife, Randi, and the town in which he grew up.
Manchester by the Sea depicts loneliness in a different light. It is also a visual treat because the cinematography is top notch.
The whole movie feels so realistic and slowly unfolds events. You will have a great time watching it.
1. The Shining (1980)
The Shining is a psychological horror movie based on a book written by Stephen King. It is directed by Stanley Kubrick. The story follows an author named Jack Torrance as he interviews for a position as a winter caretaker at the secluded, historic, massive, and gorgeous Overlook Hotel.
Jack is accompanied by his wife Wendy and their son Danny. Danny, as so happens, possesses a mysterious ability known as “The Shining.” On their first day at the Overlook, Danny meets Hallorann, the hotel cook, who warns him about the hotel and the terrifying Room 237. Danny begins to see visions as the days pass, while Jack spirals into insanity.
He becomes increasingly hostile, to the point that Danny and Wendy believe Jack is planning something horrible. We see Jack’s descent into madness as he slowly isolates himself from everyone. It is one of the best psychological horror films.
It is impossible to discuss movies about loneliness without mentioning The Shining.