Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Goodbye Solo

Rahim Bahrani*2009*91m*

There is a cliff whose high and bending head
Looks fearfully in the confined deep.
Bring me but to the very brim of it....
From that place shall I no leading need...King Lear

William, 72 years old, plans to commit suicide on 20th October, two weeks from now, by jumping off Blowing Rock, a scenic spot known for the ferocity of the winds that blow there, so strong that the snow falls upwards. For that purpose he engages a Senegalese Taxi Driver named Solo for a large sum for the one way trip. The two become friends as the young taxi driver tries to veer him from his enterprise. In the process we catch glimpses of the peaceful multiracial society which seems to be the simple truth of present day America, and the family life of  an Africa born African American married to a Mexican-American, and the child born to them in the film will be an American of Senegalese-Mexican parentage. The teenage daughter Alex from a previous marriage has a substantial role.

I had to see it twice to get my bearings, and the second time was a riveting experience as everything fell` into place from the perspective of the whole.

Here is an old man with an unspecified past, obviously fed up and tired out, who is yet good natured and human enough to enjoy his omelet ( with mushrooms), likes to reminisce the songs of folk singer Hank Williams, cooks breakfast for Solo and Alex, even coaches Solo for an exam, sees movies. More standing out than his depression is the resolution to go through with his scheme. And how meticulously and lovingly he builds his suicide, caving himself and all exit routes. He seems keen to do a neat job, leaving no loose string hanging. Why should a healthy man of sound mind and adequate means do that, at an age when one is supposed to have attained to a degree of equanimity?

The film is capped with an ending of such exquisite beauty as one has never seen, and which it would be a sin to reveal even in the tiniest. I put this film in the category of Ikiru and , yes, King Lear.
Roger Ebert's review


Nick Duval said...

I would put this in my Top 10 of 2009 at about 10, but maybe I'll like it better if I see it again. I wasn't crazy about the ending, but maybe I need to revisit it. Very good movie, though, with a great performance by Souleymane Sy Savane.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to easy why Bahrani is being so highly hailed. The man combines neo-realism with some Bresson (though not on the same level as the Master). A great film, great director

vivek said...

Hello Mr. Rana,

HNY to you too. I saw this film recently and thought it was the best one in a long while. Need to catch up on Bahrani's other films now.

S. M. Rana said...

Cheers for your forthcoming century!!