Goodbye Solo

Rated 3.0

Roger Ebert has called Ramin Bahrani “the next great American director,” but based on his 2007 Chop Shop and the recently released Goodbye Solo, I’m not quite convinced. Bahrani has a delicate touch with difficult scenes, and a knack for natural performances and evocative locations (the setting here is Bahrani’s own North Carolina, with a focus on the African immigrant working class), but there’s also an emotional emptiness just vague enough to pass for an emotional journey. Affable Senegalese cab driver Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane, the real find here) is commissioned by the mysteriously suicidal William (Red West, also strong) to chauffeur him around in his last days, and then to his place of death. Solo accepts the offer, then spends the rest of the film trying to work past William’s resistance and into his life.