Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review Tuesday: 'Solitary Man'

Today’s ‘Review Tuesday’. During the 90 minutes of the 2010 movie Solitary Man [1, 2, 3], one word stuck in my brain: roué [4]. Of French origin, it means a debauched, lecherous and dissipated person Ben Kalmen, played by Michael Douglas, is a successful car dealer – whatever that is – until he’s diagnosed with a possible heart condition. Literally from that moment he embarks on a 6-year journey of gradual occupational and personal unravelling. And concurrently he becomes a roué. Roué’s a derogatory word. And post-diagnosis Kalmen is not likeable as he engages in one act of high-risk behaviour after another. I never look well on a film whose main character’s objectionable. The raison d'être of Solitary Man is the self-sabotage of Kalmen’s life. But Michael Douglas, as fine an actor as he may be, barely lifts his role above the threshold of believability. Maybe it’s not his fault: as the film opens with ‘the diagnosis’, it doesn’t show Kalmen before his spiral into self-destruction. Thus the audience is denied any understanding of why the diagnosis triggered this reaction in him. Though the Kalmen character’s not likeable, there are two who are, i.e. Kalmen’s ex-wife Nancy (played by Susan Sarandon) who may still hold a flame for him; and his buddy Jimmy Merino (Danny DeVito) who tries valiantly to rescue him from himself. But, in the washup, Nancy and Jimmy can rescue neither Kalmen nor this movie. So I rate it two stars out of five.

No comments: