Recently, Time magazine published a story about the advantages of being an introvert and the power inherent in being shy. It notes that people who looked inward, who were more prone to remaining quiet, still and solitary often have advantages when it comes to decision making, problem analysis and cognitive functions.
I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone who prefers privacy to a party when I say that’s excellent news.
As someone who has always preferred to quietly consider and still struggles a little – though not nearly as much as when I was younger – in social situations, I’ve often wondered if my tendency to seek solitude was a help or a hindrance. According to Time, it’s a little of both.
Fortunately, I’ve always had movies to remind me that I’m not alone. The history of cinema is full of characters that trend toward quiet and introspective. Here are a few of my favorites.
AMELIE (2001): When a misdiagnosed heart defect prevents a young girl from participating in the regular rituals of childhood, she turns inward, developing her own vibrant version of reality. As a young woman, she uses this unique perspective to turn Paris into an incredible adventure and, ultimately, a hunt for misplaced love.
PUMP UP THE VOLUME (1990): A painfully shy young man (Christian Slater) who finds it impossible to communicate and connect in high school finds his voice every evening when he steps behind the microphone at his own pirate radio station. Letting music and his own alter ego do the talking for him, he discovers that his own quiet voice might just have something significant to say.
TAXI DRIVER (1976): Damaged by his inability to truly function in regular society, Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) finds purpose when he meets a very young prostitute. While the violent climax of this film doesn’t offer much of a recommendation for those who spend an inordinate amount of time looking inward, it is an essential component of one of cinema’s most significant character creations.
MARTY (1955): When two painfully shy people meet, there’s no sense of destiny, of true love weaving its magical spell. Instead, this far more realistic and endearing story follows the lonely butcher Marty (Ernest Borgnine) and school teacher Clara (Betsy Blair) as they struggle to learn to communicate with one another and eventually build a meaningful relationship.
PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (2002): A true character study, this film stars an unusually subdued Adam Sandler as Barry Egan, whose domineering sisters have left him insecure, introspective and alone. When the prospect of love enters his life, he finds his carefully constructed world shaken and he begins to question his acceptance of the hand he’s been dealt.