MOVIEGOER: Timely films on isolation

Published December 9, 2020, 3:49 PM

by Nestor Cuartero

JUST A THOUGHT: Without friends, you’re like a book nobody bothers to pick up.—Psychology of Women Quarterly


FILMS ON ISOLATION: How timely that just when all this talk about hauling people suspected as possible Covid-19 carriers into government isolation camps came up, my nightly movie fare has been about people withdrawing, separating, isolating from society.

Three films I watched recently, one night after the other, everything on Netflix, talked about isolation. One film looked at isolation as a form of personal preservation, vengeance against forces of government.

The other found joy and inner peace in turning one’s back on society. The third turned to isolation to find the meaning of life, so to speak.


PERSONAL PRESERVATION: La Tranchera Infinita (The Endless Trench) is a Spanish film about a man hunted by government forces for alleged war crimes.

With the help of his wife, he succeeds in hiding himself, first at an underground hole in his own house, and later, at a cramped little space behind the wall of his father’s home.

He went in hiding for 35 years and was only able to free himself when the civil war in Spain ended. Amnesty was then granted to all those who supposedly committed war crimes.


LEAVE NO TRACE: Here’s an American film that followed the tracks of a father and his daughter who chose to live simply and with bare essentials only in the wilderness.

Government social workers discover their existence, question the legality of their action, and put them under shelter protection. The father is unable to adjust to modern living with all those amenities. They escape and move to other, similar destinations.

The film treats viewers to panoramic views of mountain and forest parks in Oregon and Washington states. These places are just too lovely, too romantic, for words.

The joy of communing, being one with nature, is the subtext of this film, which is quiet for the most part. One never really understands a father who drags his own daughter to live in the forests, except to deduce that he is suffering from a kind of mental illness.

The daughter, in an extreme, long drawn out moment of realization, tells him off as he tries to walk her again to yet another upland forest, ‘’I don’t have your problem.’’

She then decides to stay in a village where she finds friends, after growing tired of endless, restless moving and searching.


INTO THE WILD: Another film about isolation, Into The Wild, is set in the wilderness of the American countryside, the story of a young man who trades a life of comfort to freedom of expression in Alaska.

The male lead gives up a scholarship at a well-known university in favor of a wandering lifestyle in the countryside. He goes from one remote town to the next, throwing caution to the wind, forgetting about family.

The soul-searching film is directed, with a generous dose of melancholy, by actor Sean Penn.

Years ago, I remember there was Castaway, the story of a man, played by Tom Hanks, thrown into seclusion in a faraway island following an airplane crash.