Sunday, January 10, 2010

Goodbye Solo **

Director: Ramin Bahrani
Cast: Souleymane Sy Savane, Red West
Diana Franco Galindo, Carmen Leyva, Mamadou Lam

Ramin Bahrani's "Goodbye Solo" is a tale about the effect a simple stranger can have on the life of another person but done in a "poetic" way so we won't perceive it as the unoriginal ode to multiculturality it actually is.
Solo (Savane) is a Senegalese cab driver living in North Carolina with his Mexican wife (Leyva) and stepdaughter Alex (Galindo).
He meets William (West) a bitter septuagenarian who offers him a deal: one thousand dollars in cash for a one way trip to Blowing Rock, a place where the wind currents make things go up to the sky.
With the s word as the elephant in the room Solo decides he will try to make William see what makes life so special.
The problems with the screenplay are inherently American as few people will buy the idea that a cab driver actually cares for what's going on with the customer's private life. Inversely few customers would allow a cab driver to ask if he can crash at their place without them dialing the police department.
While that might come off as pure cynicism analyze this: why would William allow someone to mess up with his probable suicide plans if he wanted to do it?
And why does Bahrani make Solo the vessel for this joie de vivre if not to establish forced statements about unlikable connections?
The director aims for the sky-no pun intended-but his facile verses remain grounded by their very obviousness.
By making Solo an aspiring flight attendant he will have people making jokes about how both characters want to go up in the air. And if there is some nuance to be found in this fact, Bahrani loses it while he tries to introduce us to the friends from all nations that Solo has made.
Is the movie perhaps an attack towards the isolated nature and xenophobia relinquished to American foreign policy?
Mostly it looks like a movie that just got out of the director's hands.


Danny King said...

I liked this film because of the great performances of both Savane and West, but I am by no means in the cateogory of people who think it is a masterpiece. I agree with a lot of your points here, and I had my problems with the film as well. We never really got inside West's character, and perhaps that was the point, but it didn't really have an effect on me.

Jose said...

The performances were great indeed (the little girl was fantastic!) but the movie felt empty and not in an intentional way.