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Movie Review: Goodbye Solo

Alternate Title: The Odd Couple

Story: You know that fable about the boy and the pony? It goes something like this - Worried that their son was too optimistic, the parents of a little boy took him to a psychiatrist. Trying to dampen the boy’s spirits, the psychiatrist showed him into a room piled high with nothing but horse manure. Instead of displaying distaste, the little boy climbed to the top of the pile, dropped to all fours, and began digging. 'What do you think you’re doing?' the psychiatrist asked. 'With all this manure,' the little boy replied, beaming, 'there must be a pony in here somewhere'. The main character in director and writer Ramin Bahrani's third film is that little boy - all grown up.

It is now, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where we meet the glowing Solo, a Senegalese immigrant who drives a taxi (mostly at night), is studying to be a flight attendant, has a very pregnant Mexican wife and an adorable step daughter, Alex. Life is hard, but filled with possibilities. William, a forlorn, 70 something codger, sits in Solo's taxi and offers him a deal. For $1000, he needs a driver to take him, in two week's time, on a one way trip, to a peak called Blowing Rock. Solo quickly assumes that William intends to end his life at that time.

The balance of the film is the story of Solo, William, little Alex, life, family, responsibility, loneliness, abandonment, remorse and hope. This film is a slow moving character study and I found myself more interested in these people than I thought I would be. It is melancholy, sad and hopeful all at the same time. I am, still thinking about these people.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5IGC59Q9y8

Acting: Souleymane Sy Savane as Solo, is absolutely mesmerizing. Bravo. Red West as William, was also perfect. Diana Franco Galindo as little Alex, is a scene stealer.

Trivia: Director Ramin Bahrani, born in 1975 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is an Iranian-American screenwriter and filmmaker. His other films are Man Push Cart, Chop Shop and Strangers. Robert "Red" Gene West was known as a close friend of Elvis Presley and a member of the Memphis Mafia. He first met Elvis in high school where he was a year behind him. After Elvis' discharge from the U.S. Army in 1960, West was employed as one of Elvis' bodyguards. Over the years, Elvis bought West a number of vehicles as he became a world-famous celebrity. West also became a movie stuntman and appeared in 16 Elvis Presley movies in the 1960's. On July 13 1976, Vernon Presley, Elvis' father, fired West, Sonny West and Hebler from Elvis's employ after criticizing their heavy-handed tactics. The three of them collaborated on a book of their lives as Elvis's bodyguards which was published just two weeks before Elvis's death in 1977.

Predilection: None

Critters: Birds

Opening Titles: The film opens in mid-sentence. All titles are at the end.

Visual Art: The film almost has a documentary feel to it and takes place mostly at night.

Theater Audience: About 10 other people and us.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: Blowing Rock was scary.

Drift Factor: I stayed with the film despite it's slowness.

Predictability Level: Moderate

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Hmm

Length: 90 minutes