James Franco in 127 Hours (Photo: Kobal/Shutterstock)

    8 films about isolation to see you through lockdown

    1 April 2020

    Free Solo (2018)

    Alex Honnold is the ballsiest man you’ve (probably) never heard of. This documentary details Honnold’s quest to be the first to “free solo” (climb entirely alone and without ropes) Yosemite’s El Capitan. Intensely likable and freakishly talented, Honnold’s tale is gripping, but you’ll remain decidedly unenvious of his girlfriend and the accompanying misery. If you hate sweaty hands, or have kids that hate you shrieking in terror at every near-fall, this is not one for you. See also: The Dawn Wall.

    Available on Disney Plus and to rent/buy from Amazon.

    Withnail and I (1987)

    “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake”. For those of you lacking a country pile (with stables and groom to match) in which to isolate, Withnail serves as a timely reminder of the realities. Withnail (Richard E Grant) and I (called Marwood in the original screenplay, and played by Paul McGann) escape London and their floundering acting careers for Penrith. Questionable encounters with poachers, locals, and drug dealers ensue. The highlight, however, is homosexual thespian Uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths – “Oh my boys, my boys, we are at the end of an age!”) If the worst comes to the worst, there’s also a drinking game where you match the characters drink for drink (lighter fluid included).

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

    A comedy written and directed by the golden boy of New Zealand cinema – Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Jojo Rabbit) – Hunt for the Wilderpeople sees juvenile delinquent Ricky and reluctant foster parent Hec flee into the New Zealand bush. A manhunt follows as the unlikely pair escape the rogues gallery that attempt to capture them, surviving on their wits. There are elements reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film (exaggerated characters and sumptuous scenery), but Wilderpeople is less pretentious, and far funnier. The film will provide an insatiable urge to visit New Zealand though, so add a few grand onto the cost of watching it.

    Available on Amazon Prime 

    Cast Away (2000)

    One of the films you feel you’ve seen, but you’re not actually sure if you have (maybe you saw half of it in an airport hotel room in 2008???), Cast Away pits Tom Hanks as a FedEx analyst marooned on a desert island. Accompanied only by a volleyball (dubbed Wilson after its manufacturer), Hanks’ Chuck Noland discovers fire, builds rafts, and makes various attempts to be rescued. We all persuade ourselves we could survive on a desert island (frankly, I think my blood sugar would get me within a day), but Bear Grylls’ The Island (another miseryfest to make you glad of your domestic luxuries) proves it isn’t that easy. A good choice to provide consolation that it could be much worse than Boris’s lockdown.

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    Panic Room (2002)

    When the unwiped masses discover your secret supply of 500 rolls of Andrex Supreme Quilts, you may yearn for a panic room. In Meg Altman (Jodie Foster)’s case, the intruders are looking for millions in bearer bonds hidden in that very room. She and her daughter (a young Kristen Stewart) soon realize they’re not as safe as they think they are, and are forced to fend off the armed interlopers (Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam). David Fincher proves his credentials as the master of bleak suspense (miserable colours abound), reminding us that sometimes, the only person you can rely on is yourself. After watching this, you’ll definitely make sure your emergency phone line is properly secured.

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    127 Hours (2010)

    The ultimate “thank God that’s not me” film, made all the worse when you find out it’s based on a true story. Man goes canyoneering alone in rural Utah; boulder falls; traps hand; man is stuck with little water, and no hope of rescue. Forced to drink his own urine and – spoiler alert – amputate his lower arm, 127 Hours is the archetypal example of a scenario of a film where everything that could go wrong does go wrong. Fortunately, there is hope at the end of the tunnel slot canyon, and there’s also the autobiography it’s based off if you haven’t suffered enough stress.

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    The Consequences of Love (2004)

    If I’ve learned one thing from the glut of European crime series that has hit the small screen in recent years, it’s that, no matter how tempting the cash and glamour is, do not, under any circumstances, get involved with the mafia. Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino – of La Grande BellezzaIl Divo, and The Young Pope fame – If you can get past the bleakness of the forced isolation of protagonist Titta di Girolamo (austerely played by Toni Servillo), you’ll find a very fine film with an excellent soundtrack. And if you’re still unsure of whether to get involved with the mafia, wait for the final scene.

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    In Bruges (2008)

    I’ll admit, this one is slightly wheedled onto the list on account of its protagonists being forced to decamp to a hotel room in Bruges. But if you haven’t seen this black comedy by now, you must. A perfectly cast Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson play two Irish hitmen waiting for news from their boss (Ralph Fiennes), with a whip-sharp script from Martin McDonagh to match. As close to flawless as a film can get.

    Available to rent/buy from Amazon

    See also: Home Alone; Harry Brown; Man on Wire; Anomalisa; Dead Man’s Shoes; Finding Forrester; Mud; Life of Pi; The Martian; Into the Wild; Room; Wild