I love going to the cinema alone, and not just for the popcorn | Hannah Jane Parkinson

When I was a kid, if I spotted someone alone at the cinema I would assume they were a sad sack. I am ashamed to admit this, but I would peg them as a loser; or I would feel sorry for them, because I assumed they had no friends.

I wonder if teenagers think this of me, now that I go to the cinema alone more frequently than with company. While I enjoy going with a pal, to dissect a film or performance afterwards, perhaps it is even more of a pleasure to assess it in one’s own head, in solitude – turning it over in the mind, forming an opinion untainted by conversation.

It also means that I am free to react like a weirdo as the end credits roll, should I need to. Did I cry uncontrollably at the end of Manchester By The Sea? No comment. Did I subtly air drum after seeing Whiplash? I simply couldn’t tell you. I distinctly remember, when resident at a non-secure mental health facility, popping to the nearest cinema one evening to see The Big Short, and feeling something for the first time in weeks, wheeling away in pleasure, thinking that maybe – just maybe – I was getting better.

I am entirely happy in my own company; this extends to eating alone, or travelling by myself. I affectionately call a colleague and good friend Walk Me To Biology, because she won’t go to places alone, like the girls in school who seemed incapable of making their way to class without an escort.

But please don’t misunderstand me – I have no qualms whatsoever about bringing a friend or partner to the flicks. (Unless they are a talker, then – no. I am sure many friendships have been severed when someone frequently asks at the beginnings of films, “What is happening?”, when the point of a film is that one finds out.)

It is important to me, with all art (in fact, with everything) to form my own opinions before opening up to the input, potentially mind-changing, of others. I will never read reviews of films before watching them. I prefer to just gain a gist – usually by star ratings – of whether something is worth going to see.

Yes: better to go alone. Especially when I get the popcorn all to myself.


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