TIFF survival guide: The art of watching a movie alone


Some activities, when done alone, inspire certain social stigma. Its as though going out for dinner or for a drink on your own is reserved only for characters in films in order to portray how brooding and lonesome they are — think of the wide shot of Bill Murray slouched over the hotel bar in Lost in Translation, still wearing the tapered tuxedo from the whisky photo shoot and looking forlorn.

Many would rather stay at home by themselves than go out into the world alone and risk looking Lost in Translation Bill Murray-ish. Of course, there are ways around it. Chat up your bartender, bring a book with you to dinner — at least youll look smart— or have a short-lived quasi-romance with Scarlett Johansson. If Ive leaned anything from movies, these methods should be effective, if not a little slow moving and anticlimactic.

As far as films go, deciding what which to see can be a difficult process in a group setting. In a date situation, TIFF tickets start at about $20 apiece, not including the ungodly price of concessions. The following four steps will set you free from financial and social setbacks while allowing you to take in any film in the festival.
This is the art of watching a movie alone.

1. Stock Up
You dont have to worry about appearing cheap in front of your date. You are cheap. Everyone is cheap. Hit up the Shoppers Drug Mart before the show and pack your bag with Life brand candy and soda. Optimum points? Yes, please.

2. Select a Seat
Do you ever go to a packed movie in a group and, despite many vacant seats all over the cinema, have trouble finding enough seats for everyone to sit together? Well, those many vacant seats are now yours. All of them. Leave one, go to the bathroom, come back and set up camp in another. Its all yours.

3. Get over yourself
No one cares that you are at the movies alone. If youre worried about it, you can tell yourself that people probably assume youre just waiting for someone. This would be assuming, though, that people are thinking about you, which they arent. People are thinking about twizzlers, junior mints and how badly they dont want to miss any of the previews versus how badly they have to pee.

4. Enjoy the movie
The Aristotelian use of drama was as a means of catharsis. People would lend their emotions to a narrative in order to purge certain tensions in their lives. Whether its comedy or tragedy, just allowing yourself to unabashedly feel something is therapeutic. When you watch a comedy by yourself at home, you dont laugh aloud as much as you would when watching it with a friend or a group of people. This is because even if a film engages us, were still aware of other people. However, if you dont have to censor your emotions or relate them to someone else, the way your respond to a film becomes much more personal. You can formulate your own unadulterated opinions. You might even learn something about yourself. At the cinema, no one is watching you – theyre watching the movie. You can just let go and allow the film to wash over you. Crying at a matinee of Lars and the Real Girl? Yes please.

Hopefully youre now prepared to venture out into the cold, dark TIFF on your own, without fear of persecution or financial disaster. If you still feel that youre not the type to go out into social settings on your lonesome, there is still hope for you. You can always express your brooding loneliness by looking out the window on a train, staring at a photograph of a lost lover before letting it fall from your grip into the fireplace, or standing outside, wearing a trench coat holding a ghetto blaster above your head playing Peter Gabriels In Your Eyes .