I have the pleasure of hosting the Friday night Battelle Film Club showing of Goodbye Solo, which was one of my favorite no-one-ever-heard-of-it films from 2008.
Solo is an immigrant from Senegal living in Winston-Salem, N.C. He’s in a difficult marriage to a Mexican woman. Solo drives cab but longs to be a flight attendant.
It is the source of the marriage conflict and the marriage conflict is what drives Solo to a deeper friendship with William, the film’s other main character.
William is an old man — a loner. On the cab ride where they meet, William contracts with Solo to take him to a distant park on a certain date. The scenic highlight is a mountain peak that overlooks North Carolina’s beautiful forests. The reason for the trip is obvious to Solo. He tries to get William to open up and tell him why. Opening up isn’t William’s thing, so their relationship is uneasy.
The mystery of William’s life, his trips to a movie theater, and Solo’s stream-of-consciousness dialogue and irresistible personality drive the movie.
Director/co-writer Ramin Bahrani’s film is a very well-written, straight ahead character study about people being people. Goodbye Solo works mostly because of the odd chemistry between Souleymane Sy Savane who does Solo and character actor Red West whose acting style and looks will remind you of Richard Farnsworth (Anne of Green Gables, The Straight Story).
Savane is electric, while West gets a lot of mileage out of a few grunts and sad eyes that reflect the pain of a man with too many regrets.
Don’t miss this one.
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated R for language and mature themes. It plays at 8 p.m. Friday, April 9 only at the Battelle Auditorium.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.