Souleymane aka Solo (Souleyman Sy Savane),
a Senegalese taxi driver in Winston-Salem, North Carolina picks up a
passenger William (Red West), a stoic 70 year old. On the journey,
William tells Solo he wants him to drive him iin two weeks to Blowing
Rock on October 20th. Solo understands what William's intentions
are on that day, and so takes it upon himself to dissuade him from
jumping on that day.
Solo joins William at his motel room, and through a combination of
talking and discussion, he attempts to prove to William that life is
worth living. He is helped by his 9 year old stepdaughter, Alex (Diana
Franco Galindo); an independent, lovable girl.
Following the festival darlings MAN PUSH CART and CHOP SHOP, Bahrami
returns with the most fictional of his three features thus far after
the meta-documentary essence of his debut and sophomore features.
As the lights go down, we are thrust straight into Solo's cab and
within five minutes you realise what William wants to do and how this
shocks Solo and prompts his actions. Feeling responsible for
William, he puts him in his life sharing the dream of becoming a flight
attendant and William helps him revise and there is also the sub-plot
of a possible grandson who works at the local cinema.
Neo-realist in tone, using a lot of static cameras with actors
positioned in one and two shot combinations or alternatively a
hand-held camera in the motel room, for example, for fluency and
continuity. This documentary feel gives a real belief in the
production as a fly-on-the-wall at times, partly due to the
performances of the novice Savane and veteran West, who resembles the
original Marlboro man.
One grating flaw for me was the constant joviality of the character
Solo (reminiscent of Polly in HAPPY GO LUCKY - there played for laughs)
which can come across as superficial and the sort of behaviour that
would not make a man reconsider suicide. However, the intent of
Solo's actions are never in doubt, and William does thank Solo at one
point. But the realistic tone coupled with a series of
unfortunate obstacles confronted by Solo that put a bee in his happy
bonnet, means he realises even he will not be able to change William's
mind. And the drive to Blowing Rock at the conclusion is one of
the most heartbreaking moments as the three main characters all sit in
silence as they watch the mileage markers count down to the ultimate
Bahrami excels here focusing on a story with great economy of time and
script, never overstating things and pandering for sentimentalism,
which could have easily been done by other people in American
independent cinema.eitman's follow up to the phenomenal
triumph with JUNO he moves on to another end of the age spectrum going
from youth to middle age and from high school to corporate America,
taking on the form of Ryan Bingham a job relocator, a man who goes from
city to city firing on behalf of people who do not have enough cajones
to do so.