Goodbye Solo

Movies, Drama
4 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

How wondrous has it been to watch Brooklyn’s own Ramin Bahrani, 33, evolve into a new Abbas Kiarostami? (The latter, championed in the 1990s for his poetic dramas, is no longer quite the visionary, so the job’s free.) Since breaking through with 2005’s Man Push Cart, Bahrani has only improved. He has a humane eye for anonymous urban strivers—deceptively complex donut-sellers and underage Queens mechanics—and has cultivated a suitably global perspective for post-9/11 NYC.

Now stepping out of his five-boroughs comfort zone, Bahrani finds a story in his own birthplace of North Carolina. Goodbye Solo fits the director’s curiosity keenly, affording him a pair of nuanced characters. Senegalese Solo (the enormously likeable Savane) is a grinning cabbie tooling around Winston-Salem during the night shift. One evening, curmudgeonly William (West, a former bodyguard to Elvis Presley who looks it) climbs into the back seat; his in-advance request includes an implied suicide at a local mountaintop. Before Solo drives him there in two weeks, he’ll do his best to change William’s mind.

If you taste cherries, specifically Kiarostami’s cab-bound A Taste of Cherry, then you’ll know the only critical reservation here is one of overfamiliarity. What Bahrani does with his odd couple, meanwhile, confirms him as an especially clear-eyed talent. Easy symmetries and tearful breakdowns are not his thing. (He’ll never make it in Hollywood.) William gets angrier at Solo, who bumptiously invades his living space, but nonetheless takes a shine to Solo’s thoughtful preteen stepdaughter (Galindo). The movie flirts with a dark idea: Maybe this taxi driver is exactly the wrong savior. Then again, saviors are figments of fiction; Goodbye Solo feels cut from stronger stuff.



Release details

Release date:
Friday March 27 2009
91 mins

Cast and crew

Ramin Bahrani
Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi
Souléymane Sy Savané
Red West
Diana Franco Galindo

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