Ramin Bahrani’s third released feature, after “Man Push Cart” and “Chop Shop,” comes to DVD today. Its release, though modest, has solidified Bahrani’s status as one of the most respected new directors in independent cinema. The new film, “Goodbye Solo,” is set in Winston Salem, North Carolina. It follows two men as they forge an impromptu relationship within the confines of a cab. Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane) is the cab’s driver, a new immigrant. William (Red West), in his seventies, jumps into the cab and tells Solo to take him to the top of a mountain so windy that the snow blows up. As the two discuss the trip, a world of (mis)understanding develops.
Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reyhan Harmanci says, “The movie starts fast and the pace rarely relents. “Goodbye Solo” is almost frighteningly alive: Other filmmakers must wonder exactly how Ramin Bahrani, the heralded director of last year’s ‘Chop Shop,’ packs so much personality in what could have been standard indie fare.”
After calling Bahrani the master of a new genre in indie film she dubs American postindustrial neorealism, Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post says that “‘Goodbye Solo’ is visually simple and stunning, especially the haunting nightscapes of Solo’s perambulations.” Stephen Rea, in The Philadelphia Inquirer, raves, “Bahrani trains the camera on his respective stars as they walk and talk, eat meals, and play pool – determined to find the truth in what they do. West, a longtime bodyguard for Elvis Presley (really!), a songwriter, stuntman and occasional actor, has a face that speaks volumes. His portrayal of the broke-down William feels effortless. Savané, a French African making his first appearance onscreen, shows an intelligence and humor – and empathy – that’ll grab you.”
Finally, in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert says of the film’s director, “Bahrani is the new great American director. He never steps wrong.” He goes on to heap lavish praise onto the film, calling it a great American film, raving about the acting and careful choices made by Bahrani and his team. He ends by saying, “A film like this makes me wonder if we are coming to the end of the facile, snarky indie films. We live in desperate times. We are ready to respond to films that ask that question. How do you live in this world? Bahrani knows all about flashy camera work, tricky shots, visual stunts. He teaches film at Columbia. But like his fellow North Carolinian, David Gordon Green, he is drawn to a more level gaze, to a film at the service of its characters and their world. Wherever you live, when this film opens, it will be the best film in town.”