Ben Kalman is aging: he has heart problems, his marriage is over, he's lost a fortune after being caught cutting corners in his East Coast car business, and he's sleeping with as many women as possible - the younger the better. He's chosen his current girlfriend, Jordan, because her father can help him get a new auto dealership; she's asked him to escort her daughter, Allyson, 18, on a visit to a Boston college campus. He behaves badly, and there are consequences to his love life, his finances, and his relationship with his daughter and grandson. Is there anywhere he can turn? Written by
This film shares its title with a Neil Diamond song sung by Johnny Cash at the beginning of the film. Johnny Cash was known as "the man in black" due to his propensity for wearing all black. Michael Douglas' character spends most of the film wearing black clothing and only occasionally wears anything except black. See more »
When my father gave me this place years ago, I used to dream about these girls. Every night, dreams, all kinds of dreams about 'em. But then I'd see them coming back after graduation. They'd come to homecomings, ballgames. They'd sit at the same tables, eat the same food. And I'd look at them and I noticed, they don't stay like this. None of 'em. They put on years and pounds and wrinkles. And I got one like that at home. So. And we can talk to each other. I know her and I'll always know her.
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Solitary Man tells the story of Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas in a good performance), a formerly successful car dealer now on a downward spiral. Now close to 60 years old, Ben seems to be living a sort of late identity crisis, chasing younger women and trying desperately to start a new business while his personal life goes down the drain as quickly as his financial situation.
The direction and writing, by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, takes a bittersweet approach to this story, chronicling the events while elegantly letting us decide what we think of Ben. In this respect, I felt they were honest and not manipulative. Unfortunately, this will also make it hard for some people to relate to the subject, unless they have contemplated those situations themselves.
The story is quite simple at its heart and tackles issues that are becoming more and more prevalent in our society. That is, we are constantly told we deserve it all, we deserve it now and we deserve it forever. Ben (implicitly and explicitly) would like to be the person he used to be, has a hard time redefining facets of his life.
Viewers will have different takes on Ben, ranging from admirable to pathetic but he is never demonized nor sainted in the movie. Unfortunately, while the themes are strongly driven throughout the film, the story itself looks more like a series of anecdotes, some of which are not stringed in the most elegant way.
The whole cast around Douglas (quite an ensemble) is excellent, except Susan Sarandon who is surprisingly bland and not up to her usually high standards. I felt her characters had few scenes but they were key to invest the audience and something was lacking there.
The film's ending is great and more food for thoughts but overall, Solitary Man falls short of being a classic due to a few writing issues.
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