Goodbye Solo

Rated 4.0

William, a hard-boiled old tough guy with a Southern drawl, offers a taxi driver named Solo $1,000 to take him, at a certain time later in the month, on a one-way journey from Winston-Salem, N.C., to a remote spot called Blowing Rock. Solo, an ebullient Sengalese immigrant, is troubled by the peculiar nature of the offer, but very intrigued by the man who makes it. William (veteran actor/stuntman Red West) is lonely and haunted-looking, but not as much the hard-core loner as he pretends to be. Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), ambitious and adventurous, is an inveterate charmer whose smiling graciousness doesn’t entirely conceal a certain capacity for manipulatively aggressive wheedling. In the days before the arranged journey, the intermittent and erratic friendship that emerges between these two men makes for some surprisingly intricate and subtle character drama. And what feels at first like a low-budget/indie mixture of buddy pic and gritty, noirish suspense yarn gradually transforms itself into a persuasive and compelling double portrait in which certain spiritual mysteries may serve as both question and answer. Writer-director Ramin Bahrani (a North Carolina native with Iranian background) makes the most of an oblique approach to storytelling, while also getting strong support from the two lead actors and the eloquently unpretentious cinematography of Michael Simmonds. Not rated, Pageant Theatre. Ends 6/18