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Goodbye solo (15)

Ramin Bahrani (91 mins), starring Souleymane Sy Savane, Red West, Diana Franco Galindo

Writer-director Ramin Bahrani's odd-couple drama brings optimism and resignation together in a fight to the death.

Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), a Senegalese cab driver in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is hired by weathered old geezer William (Red West) to drive him in a fortnight's time to Blowing Rock, a misty mountain peak. The old man intends his journey to be one-way. Solo has his own dreams of lift-off – he's studying to be a flight attendant – but he now commits himself to persuading William to think again, and involves him in the life of his adopted family. The film sets before us two wonderful physiognomies, Savane's being outwardly genial and jolly, but with a wariness in his eyes, Red West's a mask of hard living, contoured with melancholy (the actor was a one-time bodyguard of Elvis). It's touching in its way, though Bahrani's writing is not nearly as strong as his visual sense, and the denouement is perhaps too understated for its own good.