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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Goodbye Solo", Hello Ramin Bahrani., 17 Jan 2011
ric03 (Lancashire, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Goodbye Solo [DVD] (DVD)
"What are you going to do, jump off?"
Senegalese taxi driver Solo asks a customer one dark night, after he books a one-way journey to a local mountain. The silent response says it all.

Goodbye Solo is a low-budget indie film, written by Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop). It is, at it's heart, a rough-around-the-edges odd-couple/buddy movie that follows the charismatic Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane) as he attempts to befriend depressed ex-biker, William (Red West), and tries to motivate him to live again (or at least to understand why William is contemplating "jumping").

Solo is a charming character, perpetually incandescent -- despite him struggling to keep his own life in order -- who you instantly take a shine to. In fact, it is this warmth -- juxtaposed with West's authentic depiction of a fifties wildchild (he was the best friend and bodyguard of Elvis) in world-weary decline -- that pulls you straight into the story from the first shot. At times you could be forgiven for viewing this as a simple buddy movie (the intriguing interplay between the two characters (both superbly played: one young, brimming with life, the other old and running on empty) is enough to merit viewing in itself); however, there is always that darker edge, that feeling something isn't quite right, as William's character slowly unravels, and you (like Solo) are increasingly made aware that he might actually do it.

Solo's America (small-town, North Carolina) is a modern America, viewed with a gaudy, backstreet realism (street-vendors try to sell pirate DVD's to toddlers, sex is often (though not explicitly) alluded to, and many (in fact nearly all) characters smoke); I really appreciated the director's talent in portraying this story with an authenticity that well-suited the setting and the characters. It is a very well-rounded and mature meditation on age against youth, on Western decline and immigrant integration, that left me wanting to see more of Bahrani's work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, human film that somehow avoids cliches, 29 Aug 2011
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
This review is from: Goodbye Solo [DVD] (DVD)
"Goodbye Solo' manages the near impossible feat of taking an over
sentimental, almost sappy set up (a sweet young African cab driver
trying to save a depressed white old man he often drives), and turns it
into something delicate, touching, complex and open-ended.

The acting is terrific (non-pros?) and, much like Bahrani's excellent
earlier film "Man Push Cart", he's melded a neo-realist approach to the
drama and acting with a beautifully controlled use of the camera to
create beautiful images that tell a story, while working on a tiny

A couple of the smaller roles are weakly acted, and that hurts a bit,
but doesn't keep this from being a special film.

Well worth seeking out.

A side note; if you are at all impressed by director Bahrani's work,
I'd strongly suggest you search out his wonderful short film "Plastic
Bag" which is viewable on YouTube, and other sites on the web (a
quick google will find it). He teamed up with the great Werner Herzog
(who narrates) to tell the first person story of the life of an unwanted
plastic bag in a film that is visually beautiful, very funny, and very sad.
One of the best, non-preachy films on ecology I've ever seen, it feels
like this generation's answer to the classic short "The Red Balloon"
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Goodbye Solo [DVD]
Goodbye Solo [DVD] by Ramin Bahrani (DVD - 2010)
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