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Melancholy loners
April 24, 2011 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Melancholy movies about loneliness and alienation?

I just saw The Last Life in the Universe, and it has put me on a kick to find more movies about loneliness and alienation. Googling has given me some more great examples:

* Lars and the Real Girl
* Lost in the Translation
* Lawn Dogs
* Taxi Driver

I would like more examples, please! The melancholy feel is essential. Bonus points for characters who are surrounded by people but can't seem to connect to any of them.
posted by giggleknickers to Media & Arts (77 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
 
Trust by Hal Hartley
posted by item at 5:53 AM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ghost World
posted by SoftRain at 5:58 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Moon
Falling Down
posted by Gorgik at 6:02 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Graduate is one of my favorites for this. (Sorry for the phone-induced lack of link.)
posted by chatongriffes at 6:07 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Donny Darko
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:08 AM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's eating gilbert grape
posted by askmehow at 6:09 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Happiness by todd solonz
posted by askmehow at 6:15 AM on April 24, 2011


Wendy and Lucy is absolutely the movie you're looking for. One of my favorite films ever.
posted by The Michael The at 6:42 AM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Christmas in August, a Korean film about a budding romance between two people, one of whom is (secretly) ill. In general, both Korean and Japanese films often have a strong element of melancholy in them even the ones with a generally positive ending.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:47 AM on April 24, 2011


The Station Attendant
posted by elle.jeezy at 6:51 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Movern Callar
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:54 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Солярис

More info
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:57 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


High Plains Drifter.
posted by paulsc at 7:04 AM on April 24, 2011


Ikiru.
posted by pazazygeek at 7:13 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eraserhead
posted by Thorzdad at 7:14 AM on April 24, 2011


Ikiru.

Yes, yes, yes! If I could favorite that answer twice, I would. Here's the trailer.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:18 AM on April 24, 2011


The Remains of the Day (I've only read the book, but there is a movie)
posted by lmindful at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


fight club
posted by pick_the_flowers at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2011


The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
posted by marais at 7:28 AM on April 24, 2011


Punch Drunk Love.
posted by pts at 7:32 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


lonesome jim
posted by phil at 7:33 AM on April 24, 2011


This might seem like an odd nomination, but if you think about it, the first Raimi Spiderman works out that way.
posted by NortonDC at 7:33 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Winter Guest
posted by Orinda at 7:38 AM on April 24, 2011


3-iron
posted by yeolcoatl at 7:47 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


2nding 3-Iron, even though it's a weirdly hopeful film. Good performances, interesting concept, well-put together.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:52 AM on April 24, 2011


The Misfits and possibly, Withnail and I. Plus of course Rebel Without A Cause.
posted by Rash at 7:53 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, so many examples. I can't wait to have a lonely melancholy movie marathon. I just hope it doesn't send me catapulting into depression!
posted by giggleknickers at 7:53 AM on April 24, 2011


characters who are surrounded by people but can't seem to connect to any of them

I know this feeling and recognized it in the Daniel Stern character in the otherwise unmelancholic Breaking Away.
posted by Rash at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2011


Goodbye Solo
posted by catwash at 7:58 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Noriko's Dinner Table
Specifically about the breakdown of family relations, inability to "connect" with people; forced, superficial relationships and generation gap.

Suicide Circle
The melancholy ramps up over the course of the film, but it's otherwise very gory and horror-movie-esque. Themes are loneliness, suicide, alienation and existentialism. Noriko's Dinner Table is something of a pseudo-sequel to it. Also, may not make sense.

Kairo (Pulse)
While a horror film first and foremost, it's more melancholic than scary. Themes are loneliness and alienation owing to technology. Strongly recommended as this seems to hit closely to what you're looking for.

The Wrestler
Melancholy quotient is subjective, but is very sad, and revolves around the loneliness and rejectedness suffered by a retired wrestler, who finds himself unable to connect to people anymore.

The Diving Bell and the Butterly
Probably not melancholic in the same sense as other films, but the premise is enough to make anyone a sad panda. Loneliness is a major theme.

Marebito
I'm probably spoiling it by mentioning it here, but this film, while mostly rooted in horror and pulp fiction, has a strange sense of melancholy to it that I adore. Loneliness and alienation are specifically major themes. Also, is very, very weird.

Strongly seconding Moon.
posted by Senza Volto at 7:59 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Afterlife - "Koreeda's After Life is set in a waystation where the souls of the recently deceased are processed before entering heaven. "Heaven," for the film, is a single memory from one's life."

Last Night - "A group of very different individuals with different ideas of how to face the end come together as the world is expected to end in six hours at the turn of the century. "
posted by jessamyn at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2011


Un Coeur en Hiver. Is all about a person who can't connect with anyone, plus some really wonderful Ravel music.
posted by JanetLand at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Garden State.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:03 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Lookout
posted by yaymukund at 8:08 AM on April 24, 2011


I see someone else already mentioned Solaris, but pretty much anything by Andrei Tarkovsky has a melancholy feel to it. However to me his The Sacrifice and Nostalghia stand out a little bit more in their loneliness.

Though it features almost exclusively two actors, Scenes from a Marriage has a very lonely feel to it which I absolutely love.

All three of these actually have Erland Josephson in them, strangely enough.

One more for the road, The Celebration.

Don't watch them all at once... for your health!
posted by knilstad at 8:08 AM on April 24, 2011


I think elle.jeezy means The Station Agent, which I would also suggest.
posted by FlyByDay at 8:10 AM on April 24, 2011 [4 favorites]


Loneliness: Crazy Heart.

Alienation: Dogtooth.
posted by heartofglass at 8:19 AM on April 24, 2011


Pretty much every movie by Wong Kar Wai.
posted by milarepa at 8:23 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The new Jane Eyre is well worth a trip to the theater. Is there anything more melancholy than the Yorkshire moors?
posted by ch1x0r at 8:48 AM on April 24, 2011


Definitely a lot of the films of Werner Herzog would qualify. Stroszek comes to mind.
posted by gudrun at 8:59 AM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Paris, Texas
posted by vers at 9:06 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Unmade Beds
posted by smokingmonkey at 9:08 AM on April 24, 2011


I read "the melancholy feel is essential" and instantly thought Ikiru by Kurosawa. You have to check that one out, it's so unbelievably sad.
posted by phaedon at 9:20 AM on April 24, 2011


Mike Leigh's Naked is also pretty damn alienated/ing.

Also as mentioned, Herzog's films are great for this (legend has it Ian Curtis watched Stroszek before hanging himself)... i.e. Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre and the bizarre Heart of Glass.

Bertolucci's Il Conformista.

Annnd Faces by John Cassavetes makes me feel pretty blue.
posted by knilstad at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Love Liza
posted by katy song at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2011


La Strada is what you're looking for. It takes about 10 minutes to get used to the dubbing (Fellini liked to change the dialogue after the fact) but the last scene is probably one of the best in all of cinema.

La Dolce Vita has a similar ending and similar themes, but it's less focused on solitude, and more about it means to live a good life.
posted by notion at 9:43 AM on April 24, 2011


Nicholas Ray's films Rebel Without a Cause, They Live by Night, and On Dangerous Ground.

The Last Picture Show

Carrie

Robinson Crusoe on Mars
posted by plokent at 9:46 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Second heartofglass' recommendation of Dogtooth - I'm not sure how much it qualifies for melancholy or loneliness, but it's definitely the most disturbing film I've seen about alienation.
posted by Senza Volto at 9:47 AM on April 24, 2011


Seconding Robinson Crusoe on Mars if only for the Martian bagpipes.
posted by knilstad at 10:24 AM on April 24, 2011


Yes Wong Kai Wai. I mean, In The Mood For Love is all massively gorgeous melancholy wrapped in an immaculate cheongsam.
posted by sestaaak at 10:41 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Sweet Hereafter - its about a bus crash which kills most of the kids in a small town and the aftermath.

I also have to second Falling Down it hits the alienation button really well.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 11:10 AM on April 24, 2011


Keane
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a bit more on the fringe, but that's because my first choices were already taken above. :)

Marty
The Conversation
Shane

And wow, I think just from watching the trailer, the characters for "Ikiru" might be my first tattoo!
posted by rhizome at 11:24 AM on April 24, 2011


Antonioni's "Alienation trilogy":
L'Eclisse/L'Avventura/Deserto Rosso

The Lives of Others
Le Samourai
The Conformist
Cafe Lumiere
Three Colors: Blue
Wings of Desire
Sans toit ni loi

Also nthing Rebel Without a Cause, Wong Kar Wai, and Tarkovsky films.
posted by Wemmick at 11:33 AM on April 24, 2011


The Man Who Wasn't There
posted by rainperimeter at 12:04 PM on April 24, 2011


Magnolia.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 12:28 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Talk to Her. This scene destroys me every time.
posted by ourobouros at 12:53 PM on April 24, 2011


All About Lily Chou-Chou
An Angel at my Table
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Heavy
posted by cazoo at 1:00 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Payday with Rip Torn

The Hustler with Paul Newman
posted by PaulBGoode at 1:56 PM on April 24, 2011


The Visitor
The Illusionist (not the Edward Norton movie)
Swedish Auto
It's Not Me, I Swear!
What Happened Was...
Jack Goes Boating
Short Cuts (not all the stories, but some of them feature loners)
Nobody Knows (warning: this is one of the saddest movies I've ever seen, plus it is based on a true story which makes it worse)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:46 PM on April 24, 2011


Beau Travail
Wong Kar Wai, but in particular, Fallen Angels
posted by pravit at 3:06 PM on April 24, 2011


Being John Malkovich is ultimately a story about loneliness and isolation, from being trapped in one's body.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on April 24, 2011


Silent Running. One can die from loneliness.
posted by SPrintF at 3:39 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Two Lovers starring Joaquin Phoenix is exactly what you're looking for.
posted by yawper at 6:59 PM on April 24, 2011


Oldboy Not for everyone.
The Boys
The Road
Lantana Marriage break down.

There is another Korean film about an unemployed guy in an apartment that begins with an argument over the neighbors dog going missing (it's dead). While sort of a comedy it is a lot about about loneliness. Can't remember the name though.

Agree with Ikiru. Sad but great movie.
posted by Dr Strange at 7:45 PM on April 24, 2011


There are SO many.

Tom Courtenay is brilliant at this. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and Billy Liar.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:15 PM on April 24, 2011


Five Easy Pieces
Leaving Las Vegas
Breaking the Waves
posted by marsha56 at 9:54 PM on April 24, 2011


There is another Korean film about an unemployed guy in an apartment that begins with an argument over the neighbors dog going missing (it's dead). While sort of a comedy it is a lot about about loneliness. Can't remember the name though.

That's Barking Dogs Never Bite. I have no idea what it is about Korea that all the best movies keep coming from there.
posted by giggleknickers at 11:26 PM on April 24, 2011


All About Lily Chou-Chou basically defines the term 'melancholy' in my mind. Utterly lonely, but not really depressing, just... empty.
posted by p3on at 3:18 AM on April 25, 2011


Revolutionary Road
posted by batonthefueltank at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2011


paperman Kind of along the lines of Lost In Translation in terms of a generational gap of two kindered spirits meeting. Or something less corny. This one has a twist.

Mr. Nobody is alright. It's about the only guy on earth that doesn't live forever and telling his life story.

Of course there is Stranger Than Fiction. One of the best movies Will Ferrel has been in.

Adam might be good. About autism.

One Hour Photo. Robin Williams is so creepy and not manic at all.

Ghost world is good about alienation.
posted by penguinkeys at 2:36 PM on April 25, 2011


Shopgirl with Steve Martin and Claire Danes.
posted by bquarters at 6:01 PM on April 25, 2011


The Indian Runner
posted by stuph at 6:31 PM on April 25, 2011


Another Year. Despite the close familial relationships it explores, the treatment of Lesley Manville's character just makes me ache.
posted by like_neon at 3:21 AM on April 26, 2011


Sue by Amos Kollek.
posted by WalkingAround at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2011


Wilby Wonderful
Chilly Scenes of Winter
posted by littlecatfeet at 6:46 PM on April 28, 2011


2nding Moon


Last Exit Brooklyn


Maybe even Bladerunner and The Wall?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 5:05 AM on May 1, 2011


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