Loneliness can be an excruciating experience for anyone, but it can be particularly distressing for women. As social creatures, we crave socialization, approval, and a sense of community. When deprived of these things, it can make women feel trapped, isolated, and misunderstood. Here are the top 14 films to explore this theme, depicting the mental anguish of lonely women in compelling and poignant ways.
1 – Carrie (2013)
The Carrie reboot follows the same story with a bit of a twist. However, it remains the same in regards to emotional turbulence that women go through.
2 – Sophie's Choice (1982)
You cannot talk about the emotional torture of women without delving into the iconic Sophie's Choice, specifically looking at Meryl Streep and her phenomenal performance.
3 – Lost in Translation (2003)
Bob, a middle-aged American movie star, meets Charlotte, a young college graduate, in Tokyo, where they both feel lost and disconnected from their surroundings. As they spend time together, they develop a deep connection, and their conversations and experiences help them confront their feelings of loneliness and find a sense of purpose.
4 – Amélie (2001)
Amélie is a whimsical and imaginative young woman who lives in Paris and feels isolated from those around her. She decides to help those she encounters in her daily life, leading her on a journey of self-discovery and connection as she finds purpose in bringing joy to others. This is a great depiction of the positive ways women can overcome loneliness.
5 – Melancholia (2011)
Justine, a newlywed, struggles with depression and a sense of alienation during her wedding reception. As the planet Melancholia approaches Earth, Justine's sister Claire tries to comfort her, but both women ultimately confront their own mortality and the fragility of human existence. The planet's impending collision with Earth represents Justine's internal struggle and her realization that no external validation or connection can save her from death's ultimate isolation and loneliness.
6 – Wild (2014)
After the death of her mother and the breakdown of her marriage, Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) embarks on a solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. As she confronts the physical challenges of the journey, she also confronts her emotional pain and learns to find strength in her vulnerability.
7 – Black Swan (2010)
Nina, a ballerina, is chosen to play the lead in Swan Lake, but she becomes increasingly obsessed with perfection and the fear of failure. As she delves deeper into the role and confronts her own desires and fears, she descends into a dark and destructive madness. The exploration of the protagonist's descent into madness serves as a powerful cautionary tale about the dangers of artistic obsession and the devastating consequences of isolation and loneliness.
8 – Saint Maud (2019)
Maud is a devoutly religious nurse who becomes obsessed with saving the soul of her terminally ill patient, Amanda. As Maud's religious fervor turns to extremism, she becomes increasingly isolated and tormented by her own demons. While this A24 horror film isn't explicitly about the torture of a lonely female mind, the protagonist suffers tremendously from self-imposed isolation.
9 – Carrie (1976)
Carrie White is a high school student who is ridiculed and ostracized by her classmates. After experiencing traumatic events at the school prom, she unleashes her telekinetic powers and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. Carrie explores the devastating consequences of social ostracization on a young female mind as they are “otherized” by their peers.
10 – A Ghost Story (2017)
When a young musician dies unexpectedly, he becomes a ghost who haunts the house he shared with his wife. As he watches her grieve and move on with her life, he confronts his own feelings of isolation and the transience of human existence. The film's exploration of the character's journey through time and space, and the moments of connection and meaning that occur throughout this journey, suggest that life has inherent value and meaning, even in the face of its impermanence
11 – Mulholland Drive (2001)
Betty, a bright-eyed actress, arrives in Hollywood with dreams of stardom, but she becomes entangled in a dark and surreal mystery involving a mysterious woman named Rita. As Betty confronts her own identity and the illusions of the Hollywood dream, she descends into a nightmarish world of loneliness and despair.
12 – The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The Lisbon sisters are a group of teenage girls who live in a repressive and sheltered household. After the youngest sister attempts suicide, the girls become increasingly isolated from the world around them, leading to tragic consequences. As the neighborhood boys who were once fascinated by the sisters try to make sense of their actions, they confront the cruel realities of loneliness and unfulfilled desires.
13 – May (2002)
May is a psychological indie horror film about a girl who lives at her breaking point most of her life. Her physical deformity has caused her to endure trials and tribulations. Finally, she gets to a point where she has had enough of the people that make fun of her and succumbs to the trauma of years of social alienation.
14 – The Piano (1993)
In a tale of self-discovery and female rebellion, a mute Scottish woman ends up in colonial New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century. There is an arranged marriage planned. The woman and her daughter arrive with their piano. The Piano was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. This is one romantic drama you must see.
Jaimee Marshall is a writer who hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia but has spent the past few years living abroad in Australia. She considers herself a bit of a movie buff with a knack for horror and clever sci-fi flicks. When she isn't watching or writing about movies, she's probably either posting political memes, cooking vegan food, or being active. She covers entertainment news, and reviews films and television for Wealth of Geeks. You can also catch her deep dives on sociopolitical issues at Evie Magazine, Katie Couric Media, and Her Campus or watch her appearance on Popcorned Planet, where she discusses heated issues like due process in our current social climate.