Loneliness is an emotional response every human on this planet is familiar with, be it a king or white-collar working man with a family. Often confused with another similar state called isolation ( a deliberate act of being or making someone alone), the feeling of loneliness can actually arise even if you are having a grand party with your closest friends.
In short, loneliness is something we perceive and can be subjective depending on our nature, history.
Thankfully, various forms of art, especially movies have been able to portray this sad and often uncomfortable emotion. Audiences can always look up for films to resonate with based on their feelings, be it of joy or sadness.
As the saying goes, ‘ art disturbs the comfortable ones and comforts those that are disturbed’. So, if you ever feel too lonely, just dive into the realm of the amazing and beautiful movies listed to find solace in, if not a remedy.
1. Nymphomaniac ( 2013 )
Yes, just by the title of the movie, Nymphomaniac feels as if it’s a B-grade adult flick. Actually, it is a very R-rated masterpiece with some scenes that’ll probably make some faint-hearted throw-up and fill with disgust. Trust me, even I had to close my eyes to make it out of one scene in this movie where lead character Joe (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) performs an abortion on herself.
Now, you might be wondering how such a gore-sounding movie deals with loneliness? Let me just tell you that the film is directed by Lars Von Trier, a director who’s one of his cinematic signatures is disturbing the audience but not in a cheap way.
He gives a very realistic tone in his movie, and the realism is not just limited to the plot but in the cinematography as well, all thanks to the Dogme 95 he came up with. Just watch Lars’s masterpiece from 1988 titled ‘The Idiots’ and you’ll know what I mean.
Anyway, Nymphomaniac deals with the loneliness that comes from being different in our world. It follows the crucial events and development of our main character Joe, who is a nymphomanic since a child meaning that she has a compulsive and uncontrolled desire for sex.
This taboo condition she carries affects crucial stages of her life from an early age, from love, growth, marriage, and career. Our lead protagonist at one point finds important people in her life floating away all due to her nymphomaniac condition.
This leads Joe to seek extreme and desperate measures to lead a normal life by thinking she can cure the condition she lives with. But as the film progresses, Joe starts to accept herself for who she is and NO, this isn’t the end that I’m giving away from the movie.
Let’s keep in mind that it’s a Von Trier movie and the complexity of human life, the human condition, and our absurdity of life is further laid out leaving the audience with more questions. At last, be rest assured that Joe being a nymphomaniac isn’t the centerpiece of her identity, but the loneliness that lingers since childhood is the main cross she carries. At one point she even says,
I felt like Iwas the lonelist in the big vast universe, I JUST FELT LIKE CRYING.
As someone who suffers from clinical depression, Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomanic is among the film listed on his depression trilogy. So, it suffices to say that the movie will hit the core emotions of everyone going through the route of existential and melancholy.
2. A Brand New Life (2009)
This south korean gem is the least talked about from the nation that bought cinematic masterpieces like Parasite and Oldboy. It’s rather personal and almost autobiographical with events based on the director Ounie Lecomte’s own experience of abandonment.
The director A Brand New Life resides in Paris but comes from Korean roots since Ounie was left by her parents at a catholic orphanage at the age of 10. She lived there for a year and was adopted by a couple from France where she eventually grew up.
And, let me tell you that the plot of A Brand New Life is similar to what I wrote above, but it’s more descriptive and full of cinematic emotions when seen on screen. Actress Kim Sae-Ron plays a 9-year-old child named Jinhee left by her father at an orphanage where she goes on a drastic character development trying to cope with reality, abandonment.
Within the premise of the institution filled with other orphans like her, the audience is laid with heart-wrenching moments not just from the perspective of Jo-In. At one point, you find out how desperately hard Jinhee’s friend tries to learn English and hide the fact about her menstruation, fearing she might not be adopted. As we learn, mostly younger and physically fit are adopted while a character like Go-Sun, a physically disabled has never been adopted.
Jo finds it hard to cope up with the fact that her father left her at the orphanage bt lying about taking her on a trip. She has difficulty adjusting to her newfound family and an uncertain future all due to the fact that she still hopes her father will come to take her. But as the movie follows, the child goes through a drastic change, and as what one would call ‘ a loss of childhood’ and acceptance of reality.
Just make sure to keep a tissue by your side while watching A Brand New Life because one scene towards the end will make you end up sobbing. The film is produced by South Korea’s acclaimed director Lee Chang-Dong (Burning, Secret Sunshine) so it’s evident that he made a good decision to back up this project.
3. Midsommar (2019)
This one might come as a surprise because Midsommar usually gets a spot on the top horror movie list or some articles with titles such as “ending explained’. But bear with me on this and let me give you a bit of perspective on why this gem by Ari Aster is also about a lonely character that goes on to make very disturbing choices all after she feels a sense of acceptance and in a community.
In my opinion, Midsommar can also be counted as the best movie about cults all due to the fact that it portrays how a vulnerable individual is more susceptible to joining cults, dangerous groups. Yes, the movie is horror, and its plot is somewhere close to most “cabin in the woods” slasher movie tropes if described in a rudimentary level.
But there’s a twist, our main character Dani ( Florence Pugh) carries a deep sense of anxiety, sadness in the movie while her boyfriend and buddies don’t really give a damn about the trouble brewing inside of her. Her sister committed suicide while also killing remaining family members right when her relationship is crumbling in front of her eyes.
As the movie progresses, hell starts to pour down the characters around Dani while she starts to realize the real side of her lover. She finally starts finding solace in the troublesome cult despite having finally seen through their vile and dark traditions.
While there are have been many explanations on Midsommar’s ending, I have an opinion that it’s about the happiness and sense of community she comes to find at last. At one point in the movie, when Florence cries, all the members of the cult starting mimicking her cry and it acts as a sense of comfort for her.
Nevertheless, apart from the execution, the movie is a whole different atmosphere despite the fact that most of the horrifying scenes takes place at day. The atmosphere is very claustrophobic for viewers but our attention from Dani slips away if we just focus on the horror aspect.
So, try to look at the movie from the perspective of Dani, and the whole meaning changes, it starts to become a movie about freedom from pain, right at the climax especially.
Also, seeing Florence Pugh find mainstream success through Black Widow must surely have made fans of Midsommar proud.
4. La Dolce Vita (1960)
Directed by the legendary Federico Fellini whose artistry and beautiful works continue to resonate today, La Dolce Vita falls under no exception. There is no doubt that at first, it sounds like a romantic movie all thanks to hundreds of Italian restaurants where couples go on a date that is named after this movie. So, yeah, it’s a very misunderstood titled.
Actually, La Dolce Vita is among the most melancholic movie made by Fellini with themes on loneliness, identity crisis, suicide, and neverending search for love, fulfillment in life.
The story is set in Rome where a gossip magazine journalist named Marcello spends most of his lifeless days and nights around parties mingling with beautiful souls but failing to connect. Although he has a suicidal lover at home, our protagonist is almost like a playboy but in this case, he seems to be the one being played. He seeks something more than physical intimacy, but at the same time, Marcello still isn’t ready for the commitment and family.
Throughout the movie, he comes across a range of interesting characters including an accomplished friend who ends up killing himself and the family. There are beautiful and memorable moments throughout this gem that feels like it came out of a beautiful dream that leaves you feeling more alone.
This movie has a lot of spectacle in it, you’ll see a lot of parties., drinking and kissing scenes, and there are noises. But at the core of it, the emptiness our lead character Marcello goes through is prevalent throughout, and it becomes more apparent towards the climax.
Without giving away too much, viewers accustomed to mainstream cinema will find La Dolce Vita to be a movie that doesn’t make sense in terms of plot. But, its a movie that is not meant to be understood but instead to be felt, and find solace in.
5. The Lunchbox (2013)
This one on the list is more of a story about two lonely strangers connecting with one another in a vast busy city. In the economic age where hustle and bustle of everyday life leave us unable to take time for ourselves, The Lunchbox explores the yearning inside most of us through the conversation two characters make through letters.
Comprised of the talented late actor Imran Khan, Nimrat Kaur, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, it’s a movie that should’ve been shortlisted in Oscars.
The most beautiful thing about the movie ( let me say again ) is the conversations our two characters make without ever seeing one another. Every sentence that these characters speak through letters to each other feels like something we can all relate to.
They find solace in each other, the connection and love that grows with time without ever meeting one another in person. Both of the main characters are lonely beings: one a responsible housewife alone at home all day whose husband cheats on her and another a salaryman living alone.
To get the idea about how solitary life he leads, there is a scene where he eats dinner at his home with food ordered from a restaurant and smokes sitting on a balcony watching his neighbor celebrate their child’s birthday.
As love progress, so do our characters, Saajan & Ila’s individuality is more discovered and their nostalgic yearning. The audience is taken to the realm and time these two have lived, and the beautiful ideas about life, the human condition that they carry.
I’m pretty sure that Indian audiences will resonate with several moments in the movie, especially the nostalgic trip that these characters take from songs like ‘oh mere sajan‘. It’s a movie that reminds us that we mustn’t forget to remind ourselves if we are really living or acting day to day.
Above all, our main leads connect through food, and of course, by the end of this movie, you’ll have a whole new outlook on how taste can create connections, and showcase love through food.