Goodbye Solo
R1 - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (30th August 2009).
The Film

Some movies can be carried by just one actor. Even if other performances in the film are somewhat lacking, there can be a shining beacon of light that is an amazing performance. There was a time while watching "Goodbye Solo", written and directed by Ramin Bahrani, I thought I was watching such a film. However, a great performance can only carry the audience so far, and after a while I needed more.

"Goodbye Solo" tells the story of an old man named William (Red West), and cab driver Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), and how their lives affect each other over a week long period. The film begins abruptly in the middle of a conversation between Solo and William, in which the old man is offering an oddly large sum of money to be taken to the top of Blowing Rock. Solo jokes with the reserved William, asking him if heís going to jump. When William fails to respond, Solo gets worried. For the rest of the film, it is implied that William is getting ready to leave this world, as he sells his apartment and checks into a motel, and closes his bank account. Solo tries his hardest to convince William life is worth living, while prying into why William acts the way he does.

First off, I just have to say, Souleymane Sy Savane is brilliant in the titular character of Solo. He is immensely charming and funny, but at the same time is able to produce the nuances necessary for a character dealing with someone who is suicidal. He is convincing throughout as a jovial and caring father and friend. However, it is the complete lack of acting talent in the rest of the movie that drags it down for me. Red West never really acts anything more than a disgruntled man, and so I fail to really care about his reasons for wanting to end his life. At the same time, Soloís step daughter is unconvincing, as is his wife and friends. Herein lies the major folly of this film. I care about Solo. But I donít care about the people Solo cares about, and in the end, the entire film falls flat in terms of character interaction.

There is one element of this film that I feel was executed well, at least in terms of the tone and message, is that there is a certain vagueness to the movie that I really dug. Why William is depressed, what his real motives are, and what he ultimately decides to do is never fully revealed. But, there is one part of the movie where a major plot point is explained that I really hadnít, and would have ultimately made the movie much stronger. But what for what wasnít revealed, I give major kudos to the movie.

How exactly I feel about this movie is a tad confusing. I loved one performance and liked certain elements to the tone, but overall, it just felt very bland. There was nothing going on with the look of the movie I could appreciate, as it isnít directed terribly well, and the soundtrack is only utilized in one scene. "Goodbye Solo" isnít a worthless movie, I just donít think I can recommend it strongly, even with a paltry 91 minute run time.

Video

"Goodbye Solo" is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic aspect ratio picture, and itís movies like this that really show the aging behind the DVD format. The whole movie feels like there a thin layer of mud waxed across the cells, and this is a combination with the already bland colors mixed with a poor compression. The picture seemed blurry at times, too noisy at others, and the light colors were too light and the dark colors too dark. Overall, an unimpressive transfer.

Audio

"Goodbye Solo" is presented in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track, as well as an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track. The sound here wasnít unimpressive, but at the same time not entirely amazing either. The movie is very quiet, barely ever spouting a soundtrack, and primarily uses the sounds of cars passing by and dialogue. The actorsí lines were at times a little hard to hear over the background noises, but this occurred sparingly.
Subtitles are included in both English and Spanish.

Extras

Goodbye Solo sports an audio commentary track, the film's theatrical trailer, and a group of bonus trailers, which are detailed below:

The main special feature is a feature-length audio commentary with director Ramin Bahrani and cinematographer Michael Simmons. The two wax on philosophy of what the film really meant, emphasizing the main idea of the vagueness of Williamís story, and how the world is perceived by Solo. Overall, it seems that the two think the movie is what I thought it should be, so this commentary was a little frustrating.

Next up are a few trailers, which include one for "Goodbye Solo" itself, running for 2 minutes and 21 seconds, and also bonus trailers for the films:

- "Precious" running for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.
- "Shrink" running for 2 minutes and 26 seconds.
- "The Golden Boys" running for 1 minute and 41 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: D Audio: C- Extras: D Overall: D+

 


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