These Movies Can Help When You’re Feeling Isolated
The subject of isolation has been featured in many successful movies over the years, and the topic certainly seems timely and on point with so much of the world still sheltering in place to stop the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, May is Mental Health Awareness month in the U.S., and fostering mental health is more important than ever as so many people struggle with feelings of isolation and the loss of everything they consider "normal."
Maybe it’s possible to put some of the movie magic of Hollywood to good use to create a sense of mental camaraderie that goes beyond just entertaining. Some poignant films include characters who are dealing with tough situations in total isolation. As expected, their journeys are often filled with dread and feelings of hopelessness, but they also manage to overcome their dilemmas in the end. The final result is a sense that even the worst times are temporary and leave us stronger. Let’s take a look!
The African Queen (1951)
In The African Queen, Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) and Rose Sayer (Katharine Hepburn) escape from Kungdu. With World War I starting, they try to dodge the German troops in the area, and that means traversing some dangerous rivers to make it out of the area and back to safety.
Rear Window (1954)
In Rear Window, photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies (James Stewart) is stuck at home with a broken leg. While he's home alone, he gets the occasional visit from his girlfriend and his nurse. His movement is limited, but it doesn't stop him from doing his job, and he spots an unbelievable crime through his lens.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Swiss Family Robinson depicts a family of five embarking on a journey to relocate to New Guinea. Unfortunately, a horrendous storm causes them to crash onto an unknown island. After discovering wildlife in the region, they decide to build a treehouse to call home.
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)
The Boy in the Plastic Bubble tells the tale of Tod Lubitch (John Travolta), who has a horribly compromised immune system. Because of it, he has to grow up inside a plastic bubble to prevent him from dying. In order to live at home with his family, Lubitch is forced to do everything inside his room.
In Alien, warrant officer Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) returns from stasis on Nostromo. Along with six other crew members, Ripley lands on the moon to complete sudden repair work on the ship. Unfortunately, she is stuck having to face an alien creature by herself.
Home Alone (1990)
Home Alone showcases every parent's worst fear — their child left completely alone to fend for himself. In the movie, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) gets left behind while his family goes on their Christmas vacation. The boy is ecstatic about being left in the home by himself. Unfortunately, two comical bandits are plotting to break into the home.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 tells the true story of the failed moon mission of NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. The three men were set for an unforgettable adventure aboard spaceship Apollo 13. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst when an explosion on board disrupts the entire operation.
Robinson Crusoe (1997)
During his time as James Bond, Pierce Brosnan also starred in Robinson Crusoe as the titular character. Crusoe finds himself isolated on an island following a typhoon. Knowing he will never be found, the character begins turning the island into his new home, eventually saving a local native who becomes his only friend.
Cast Away (2000)
In Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays system analyst Chuck Noland, who works for FedEx and enjoys traveling until a trip to Malaysia leaves him the sole survivor of a disastrous plane crash. Upon making it to land, Noland realizes he is the only one on the tropical island.
Bubble Boy (2001)
In Bubble Boy, Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal) tries to live his best life while confined to the inside of a plastic bubble. He suddenly finds himself attracted to his neighbor, Chloe, and his world changes dramatically when Chloe tells him she’s marrying her boyfriend in Niagara Falls.
Panic Room (2002)
Panic Room finds Meg Altman (Jodie Foster) isolated with her daughter, Sarah (Kristen Stewart), in a panic room. They are hiding and protecting themselves from home intruders, oblivious to the fact that this specific panic room has a whopping $3 million locked in a safe. Things change when Altman has to defend her family.
Swept Away (2002)
In Swept Away, the wealthy and the poor clash on an unforgettable journey. Socialite Amber Leighton (Madonna) treats herself to a trip to Italy. During the voyage, she has an argument with deckhand Giuseppe Esposito (Adriano Giannini). Things get dicey when their ship runs out of gas, and they land on a deserted island.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Lars and the Real Girl showcases the extreme measures some people will take to avoid being alone. Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) has zero luck in the social department, but things change — sort of — when he finds a doll named Bianca and starts a "relationship" with it. This behavior obviously worries everyone around him a great deal.
In Pixar's Wall-E, the titular character lived humbly alone as a trash compactor. Unfortunately, he ends up inhabiting an empty Earth filled with waste at every turn. Upon meeting another robot named EVE, Wall-E decided to follow her back to her ship, Axiom.
It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)
In It's Kind of a Funny Story, 16-year-old Craig Gilner (Keir Gilchrist) faces the perils of being a teenager. When he harbored feelings of worthlessness, he kept it to himself. Following a suicide attempt, he is sent to a psychiatric ward for a one-week stay.
127 Hours (2010)
In 127 Hours, actor James Franco portrays real-life outdoorsman Aron Ralston. While climbing in Bluejohn Canyon, he accidentally dislodged a boulder that crushed his hand, pinning him against the canyon wall. With no one around to help him, his life flashed before his eyes, and he anticipated the worst.
In Hugo, the title character had a rough upbringing. His father died in a fire, and his uncle Claude came up missing. Left alone at the Gare Montparnasse railway station, Hugo decides to take care of the station’s clock. For him, it kept the memories of his father alive.
Life of Pi (2012)
In Life of Pi, 16-year-old Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel gets ready to move to Canada. Unfortunately, a storm managed to disrupt his travel plans. After his boat sinks near the Mariana Trench, Patel awakens on a lifeboat, thanks to an unnamed crewman. Of course, Patel wasn't completely alone as a Bengal tiger was also on board.
All Is Lost (2013)
In All Is Lost, Robert Redford portrays an unnamed man who is lost at sea. Upon discovering his boat has been destroyed, he tries to find a way back to land. The challenges get worse as he has to power through two major storms.
Gravity tells the chilling story of Dr. Ryan Stone's (Sandra Bullock) first space mission. Things go south quickly when debris crashes into the spaceship, causing her to float away into space. When commander Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) sacrifices his life to save hers, Stone has to find her way back alone with very little experience.
Locke features actor Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke, who is a construction foreman in England. Things get hectic when he receives word that his co-worker is in labor. The baby is his, so he decides to drive to be by her side.
Novelist Cheryl Strayed had her unbelievable voyage showcased in the 2014 film Wild. In the movie, Reese Witherspoon plays Strayed, who embarks on an 1,100-mile hike all by herself. For Strayed, it was the perfect way to get over a recent divorce.
In Housebound, Kylie Bucknell (Morgana O'Reilly) gets placed under house arrest following a robbery attempt. She chooses to live with her mother, Miriam (Rima Te Wiata), instead of her step-dad, Graeme. Unfortunately, she quickly learns her mother's home is haunted, and she decides to figure out more about the ghost.
The Martian (2015)
In The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets left behind during a trip to Mars. While he was originally presumed dead, his team tries to bring him back home. Watney is forced to survive on the planet alone until help arrives.
In Room, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) has been held captive for seven years with her son, Jack (Jacob Tremblay). The two are trapped in a room together by Jack's father, Old Nick (Sean Bridgers). After years of isolation, the mother and son make plans to escape.
The Shallows (2016)
The Shallows follows medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) on her trip to Mexico. During a surfing session, Adams gets attacked by a great white shark who takes a nibble out of her leg. Things get worse when she's forced to seek shelter on a small rock formation about 200 yards from shore — and safety.
Captain Fantastic (2016)
Captain Fantastic follows a family that chooses to live in isolation for a decade. Instead of allowing his children to grow up in a normal setting, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) wants them to grow up around nature. Things change when Cash's children confront him about their lifestyle.
Agoraphobia, which is the fear of feeling trapped in unsafe situations — not simply the fear of leaving your home, as many believe — was explored in 2016's Phobia. Artist Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte) starts to experience the anxiety disorder following an attack by a taxi driver. Deo starts to believe another spirit is inhabiting her apartment, which leads to her having visions.
Everything, Everything (2017)
In Everything, Everything, Madeline "Maddy" Whittier (Amandla Stenberg) couldn't experience life like other teens. Because she had SCID, she couldn’t leave her house like other people. Things change when Madeline starts having feelings for her neighbor, Oliver (Nick Robinson), and runs off with him.
Ad Astra (2019)
In Ad Astra, astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) is nearly killed following power surges throughout the solar system. He discovers his father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), is responsible for these incidents through his Lima Project. After hearing his father may be alive, Roy heads to space to confront him.