Over the course of his three features Ramin Bahrani’s accomplished what fewer and fewer American filmmakers have been able to over the past funding-starved decade. Against all the odds facing the indigenous filmmaker, he’s carved out a recognizable worldview and sets of concerns, populated his work with indelible, rounded characters, and worked his way through an emerging individual aesthetic. Having seen Man Push Cart and the superlative Chop Shop, I expected of Goodbye Solo a familiarly warm humanism built from credible performances given by (generally) non-actors, an unfussy naturalism (neo-neorealism as some have dubbed it), and a window into lives lived in plain view, but completely out of sight. It didn’t disappoint.
So add Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), an irrepressible Senegalese taxi driver working the streets of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to the roster of Bahrani’s fascinating characters, which already include a South Asian pushcart operator with aspirations and a spunky Latino junkyard brother-sister duo. We meet him as he’s mid-trip with his latest fare, William (veteran character actor and Elvis consigliere, Red West), an older man who, before the film’s even begun, has asked Solo to enter into an odd pact: in two weeks to the day, pick him up, drive him to a state park two hours away and famous for its treacherously windy mountaintops, and leave him there in exchange for an extremely generous fee.
Click here to read the rest of Jeff Reichert’s review of Goodbye Solo.