by Alec Berry
I will be quick and to the point: this film is exceptional because it conveys so much by doing so little. It is a movie that relies not upon flashly camera work or any stylistic visual measure but simply on the performances of its two characters and strong script. The viewer begins the picture by hopping into Solo’s taxi cab. From there, the audience follows: the character, the relationship and the point.
Souleymane Sy Savane is a pleasure to watch on screen as the ever-endearing Solo. (Granted, he may appear one with the character because I have never seen him as any other before, but I feel he provided a great performance.) The main niche of Solo is that he strives to be around people (sense the irony?). He is the community man. He looks to make others happy (even to the point of annoyance). Savane plays this character, this quality so well. He brings this child-like excitement and innocence to the man that completely makes sense and ultimately stirs the friendship between the weary William (Red West).
Red West holds such a place on screen. This is a man who is on the brink of suicide, and the audience feels it will every breath he takes. West carries a truly upset, beaten attitude which seethes outward and eventually clashes with Solo. The viewer never holds a certain answer as to why William wishes to end his life, but a reason is not needed when West’s performance exists. The viewer understands this man is tired. It is all the reason a viewer needs.
The point Bahrani is making with this film is people are abandoning each other. The audience sees this not only in the status of Red West’s character (an old man without a family and left by his wife) but also in smaller details and metaphors. One of my favorites is the tiny plot thread between Solo and his step-daughter, Alex. She’s a girl set on the idea of obtaining a cell phone, and when she finally does she begins to text Solo (and prefer texting) rather than communicating face-to-face.
Yet, in the middle of all the seperation, Solo looks to band together. His actions as a character, his attitude are what ultimately build this film and cause the audience to question their own lifes and relationships.
The next MI Selection I find myself with, Goodbye Solo may be my pick. I feel there are many angles you can look at this film from, and I have barely scratched them with this write up.