They say that solitude is good for the soul, but the thing about loneliness is that it is a whole ‘nother beast. Defined as the state of feeling alone – physically, mentally, or both – loneliness causes people to feel isolated, empty, alone, and unworthy. It can also make you more likely to develop a physical or mental health condition, such as depression, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.
If you’ve been feeling extra lonely lately, you’re not alone. Nearly 35% of adults report feelings of loneliness worldwide, and a recent survey found that 36% of adults in the United States say that they feel alone frequently or almost all the time. The good news is that there are many different ways of fighting loneliness (visit https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/loneliness/ to learn more)
Whenever I’m feeling lonely, watching people on TV and movies go through similar situations makes me feel like I too can make it through. I find that there is something comforting – and sometimes even grounding – about watching other people deal with the same raw, deeply human emotions that we all struggle with.
With that in mind, here are three great films from three different decades that do an amazing job capturing the essence of loneliness and isolation, and that may actually teach us a thing or two about being alone.
Perhaps one of the best depictions of loneliness and alienation ever made, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is often seen as a cultural and social statement about the psychological aftermaths of fighting in a war. The movie follows loner protagonist Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), who cruises the streets of New York City as a disturbed, sleep-deprived cab driver that becomes obsessed with saving a child prostitute.
Most memorable quote: “Loneliness has followed me my whole life. Everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There’s no escape. I’m God’s lonely man…”
A film about how isolation in and of itself can be a driver for human connection. Starring Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte and Bill Murray as Bob Harris, Lost in Translation (directed by Sofia Coppola) tells the story of an aging American movie star who goes to Tokyo to shoot a commercial and ends up meeting an American philosophy graduate who’s staying at the same hotel with her husband. During their brief encounters, the protagonists, who barely speak to each other, navigate feeling like an outsider while being ‘alone together.’
Most memorable quote: “- Charlotte: I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.
– Bob Harris: You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
Insanely beautiful but heart-wrenchingly raw, Spike Jonez’s Her is set in a futuristic Los Angeles and follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), an introverted writer going through a divorce who’s feeling increasingly isolated. In a moment of loneliness, Theodore decides to buy an artificial intelligence operating system named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Despite not having a face or a body (it’s just a voice in a computer), Theodore becomes deeply attached and infatuated with Samantha, who seems like a human person capable of developing emotions – although she really isn’t.
Most memorable quote: “It’s like I’m reading a book and it’s a book I deeply love. But I’m reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you, and the words of our story…but it’s in this endless space between the words that I’m finding myself now.”
The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.