When it comes to introverts in movies, there are a wide range of characters who represent the good, the misunderstood, and the mildly terrifying. Some of the best introverts in movies use their natural reclusiveness to shape their narratives, but not all introverted characters are created equally. While some retreat into daydreams and express themselves creatively, others become trapped in the darker or more painful interior landscapes where they spend most of their time.
The best movie introverts leave the biggest impressions, even though they likely wouldn't enjoy all the attention. They capture what it is like to be an introvert and allow their introverted audience to relate, for better or for worse, to their reserved nature.
In Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp plays Edward, a robot who has scissors for hands because his creator passed before he could finish. Edward lives most of his life on a hill, hidden away from the townsfolk and alone. He is not socialized, and he appears dangerous to other people, though he has only good intentions. Due to his circumstances, Edward is very shy and recluse. When a woman named Peg decides to take him in and acclimate him to the town, people begin to notice how talented and kindhearted he really is.
Edward uses his hands to make normal shrubs into creative masterpieces, give extravagant haircuts, and more. When the townsfolk begin to take advantage of him, Edward becomes an outcast once again and is blamed for the plight of his new neighbors.
Edward's introverted nature makes him very observant, and like many introverts, he is taken for granted. Since he cannot stand up for himself, he ends up rejected and recluse once again.
In 1985, The Breakfast Club became a cult classic by portraying what happens when a group of kids from various social cliches in high school are stuck together in one room for an extended amount of time. There's the popular girl, the jock, the nerdy guy, the trouble maker, and then there's Allison. Considered a weirdo and an outcast by the other students, Allison is typically very reserved and has plenty of internalized anger from her home life. She also has an introvert's intuition and curiosity about other people.
Throughout the course of the day, Allison's introversion leads her to realize that no matter what people may look like on the outside, you can never be sure what lies beneath the surface until you really get to know them.
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Jim Carrey plays Joel Barish, a lonely and unfulfilled guy who receives word he's been wiped from his ex-girlfriend Clementine's memory. Joel, who is still in love with Clementine, is devastated and personifies how difficult it can be for introverts to live inside a head haunted by painful memories. In desperation, Joel decides to have the same procedure done on himself, but he finds he doesn't actually want to forget Clementine as his mind is being wiped.
Joel fights against the process in an attempt to retain the cherished memories of the relationship he and Clementine shared. A fascinating look into the struggle of those who spend much of their time in their own minds, Eternal Sunshine asks viewers to consider whether they would actually be better off without their painful memories.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this 2001 comedy-drama gem is not only a surrealist masterpiece but also a magical look into the world of an introverted young French girl named Amélie. Amélie grows up in her own imaginary world because her parents believe she has a heart problem and must be isolated from other people. As an adult, she spends much of her time alone when she's not working as a waitress in a small Parisian cafe.
When Amélie is forced to confront her own loneliness in order to bring happiness to another person, she decides to commit her life to spreading joy to others. One of the film's biggest strengths is in showing the audience how some introverts find joy in things that are easy to miss if you're not paying close enough attention. Amélie goes a long way in demonstrating just how much joy there is to be found in the world.