Set in the refreshingly unfamiliar locale of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, "Goodbye Solo" is a perfectly realized human drama that, without question, ranks among the finest films of recent years.
Solo (short for Souleymane) is a cab driver from Senegal who becomes buddies of sorts with one of his regular fares - a cantankerous older gentleman by the name of William, who apparently has no family or close friends and whom Solo begins to suspect might in fact be contemplating suicide. Now Solo must decide how deeply to insinuate himself into the life of a man who obviously cherishes his privacy and who keeps all his emotions and thoughts buried deep beneath the surface of a taciturn, sometimes even resentful, exterior.
Without resorting to hyperbole, I can safely say that not only does Souleymane Sy Savane deliver the most astonishingly compelling performance I've seen in ages, but, in Solo, he has created one of the most fully actualized characters in recent memory as well. We literally can't take our eyes off Savane as he brings to extraordinary life this gregarious, highly energetic and shrewdly observant individual who's been blessed with a seemingly infinite capacity for optimism, for seeing the good in other people, and for caring about his fellow man. And it is the openhearted frankness, the complete lack of guile that Savane brings to the role that turns Solo into such a believable, fully-rounded and unforgettable character. Solo may be stuck in a nowhere job at the moment, but his innate intelligence, personal drive and infectious way with people ensure he will not be there long. Even the camera can't seem to resist Savane as it edges ever closer to his face as the movie races towards its artful, poetic and bittersweet conclusion.
As the moody and enigmatic William, Red West provides just the right note of internalized understatement to serve as an effective counterpoint to the life-affirming and extroverted qualities that flow so naturally from Solo.
Written and directed with unerring artistry and truth by Ramin Bahrani (Bahareh Azimi served as co-writer), "Goodbye Solo" is not only a genuinely great film in its own right, but in Souleymane Sy Savane, it contains a performance that truly is one for the ages. Don`t miss it.