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On the lonely roads of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two men forge an improbable friendship that will change both of their lives forever. Solo is a Senegalese cab driver working to provide a better life for his young family. William is a tough Southern good ol' boy with a lifetime of regrets. One man's American dream is just beginning, while the other's is quickly winding down. But despite their differences, both men soon realize they need each other more than either is willing to admit. Through this unlikely but unforgettable friendship, GOODBYE SOLO deftly explores the passing of a generation as well as the rapidly changing face of America. Written by
The protagonist's taxi is shown on the Linville Viaduct. This is not on the route between Blowing Rock and Winston-Salem. See more »
Why you laughing?
I'm not laughing just now.
No, No! You told me it would cost $200. Well I'll give you a thousand, to take me out there on October 20th.
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The essence of compassion, given freely with an open heart
Some people are so attached to their story that they manage to continually sabotage their aliveness and their capacity for love. Even when someone reaches out to them and challenges the skewed way in which they have constructed their world, they effectively shut them out. Ramin Bahrani's third feature, Goodbye Solo, is about William, a man clinging to his victimization act so tightly that he turns away from the only person who cares, a high-energy cab driver from Senegal who is willing to go the extra mile to tear down the wall that separates William from his fellow human beings.
Similar in narrative to Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece A Taste of Cherry, Solo (Souléymane Sy Savané) a Senegalese immigrant living in Winston Salem, North Carolina (where the director grew up) picks up a 72-year-old Caucasian passenger named William, played by Red West, a former Marine, stuntman, boxer, and bodyguard for Elvis Presley, who Solo refers to as "Big Dog". We learn next to nothing about the cantankerous old man. He refuses to engage the gregarious Solo in conversation except to offer him $1000 to drive him to Blowing Rock, a windy mountainous area, in two weeks with the depressing implication that it will be the end of the road for him, both literally and figuratively.
Similar in theme to Mike Leigh's Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky, Solo does not back off from his selfless display of good humor even when confronted by William's cold rejection. He maintains his optimism when studying for an exam to become a flight attendant. Solo knows where to find drugs or a sexual partner but there is no hint that he ever partakes. Eventually some of his positive attitude begins to break down barriers. William helps Solo in his studying, and allows him to move into his motel room when he runs into marital difficulties with his pregnant Mexican wife (Carmen Leyva). They go out drinking together, Solo introduces him to his stepdaughter Alex (Diana Franco Galindo), does his laundry for him, checks his medicine stash to see if he has some hidden terminal illness, and even searches the motel room to try and find a picture of a relative he could contact.
Gradually the two men appear to draw closer, at times showing moments of connection, and then falling back into uncertainty and rejection. Solo still searches for the clue that can prevent the inevitable, even going so far as to find out why William continually attends a local movie theater and engages in conversation with the young cashier at the box office. Bahrani's Solo is not a stereotype of the cool hip black man out to rescue the forlorn white man from himself. Solo is a multi-faceted human being with his own set of problems who is always depicted with respect. The finale, shot in the beautiful North Carolina Mountains in October, captures the stirring symphony of autumn color, and the long look that William and Solo give each other before they part is the essence of compassion, given freely with an open heart - even to the point when no payback is achieved or expected.
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