5 Great Films That Only Have One Character

Locke Tom Hardy 3

The solo character film, such as Locke, is a distinct sub-set, and boasts far fewer members. In compiling a list of examples, the first thing that became obvious is that – despite the wide variety of settings and situations, the common thread running through each is communication. Each solo character film contains, at its very centre, an attempt in some way to communicate with the wider world. Whether that be by telephone, video, tape recordings, or the written word – the isolation of the character is always framed against their desire to connect.

You might wonder, “Well, isn’t that obvious?” Yes, it is – which is kind of the point. What’s wrong with having a film depicting isolation that is actually about the isolation being experienced, and not a need for connection? To make a film about isolation is to make a film about mindfulness – about living inside the moment you are experiencing – which would be quite an intense thing to watch. To make a film about an isolated character seeking connection, however, is to make a film about aspiration – and that is a profitable staple of the modern Hollywood diet.

The second thing that became obvious – and this is very important thing to note – is that, despite spending considerable time researching various English-language titles to fit this very specific bill, I could not find a film involving a solo character that wasn’t a white male. Sure, Gravity features Sandra Bullock alone for most of the movie, but George Clooney plays a significant role. Will Smith spends a big chunk of I Am Legend alone, but there’s still a sizeable cast list featuring significant other characters with onscreen roles.

It seems that the concept of diversity has yet to reach this particular movie trope, although if our readers can highlight a film that disproves that – feel free to say so in the comments section below. In the meantime, before you seek out Locke in theatres, here are some examples of solo character movies, to get you in the mood.

Be warned, there are spoilers for each of the films discussed.