When you start reviewing films on a consistent basis, you have this strange realisation that you have to go to the cinemas on your own. Well, not for the “big” films that mass audiences are interested in, but persuading your partner to join you in watching something that is not as celebrated in the media is no small feat. Ironically, the films that get less press tend to be better than the commercial opponents.
Before I went to the cinema on my own, I used to look at others and wonder why they are not amongst company. How narrow-minded of me, to think that. Do you question someone watching a film on Netflix on a lonely Friday night? No, why should you? The instilled belief is that the cinema is a social event, and that argument is correct to an extent.
If you adore films and analyse them in depth, then the cinema becomes more than just an excuse to get out of the house. It becomes a passionate hobby. It is, of course, enjoyable sharing this experience with someone else, but for those who attend with a single ticket that experience does not change because you have still carried out the purpose of attending.
At the same time, I’m not going to lie; when I first went to watch a film all by myself, I felt odd. I walked in, retrieved my tickets, ordered my skinny caramel latte from Costa Coffee, and walked into the dark screening. First thoughts: Where do I sit? Do I sit on the side seats? No, that looks too obvious. At the back? What, and potentially join the couples on a cheeky first date? No thanks. Near the front? Let’s not be too eager. In the end, I settled for the centre and crossed my fingers that my row did not get overly busy. I felt stupid for feeling stupid. It’s just a film, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Have a sip of your coffee. Ah, that feels better. After a while, I realised there is nothing to feel embarrassed about, and I need to release myself from the conditioned habits that I am used to. Society has a strange way of teaching you how you should do things, and we shamefully fall for it.
Fast forward to the present day, and I find it relaxing to attend alone. I have learnt that I tap into my desired escapism when visiting the cinema; there is nothing to answer to, there is no stress, no responsibilities, which is why I probably find it so oddly relaxing. You get to the stage of really enjoying the time to yourself, and allowing a period to breathe afterwards, to process the film and think of the review you are going to write. There is something wonderfully comfortable in sitting in your seat, watching the trailers and waiting for the film to start, with nothing else to worry about except wondering if it is going to be a good movie. Maybe it is the introvert in me mixed with my passion for films. Maybe I love the time away from the outside world, and not being consumed by my smartphone. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it is one of my most satisfying hobbies.
There are moments when I sit down with my latte and start biting into my caramel slice, and I look across the row to see someone else on their own, and for that one second that we glance at each other we are both thinking the same thing. Isn’t this wonderful? For those who go to the cinemas on their own, this post is for you.
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Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.