Goodbye Solo -- which comes out on Lionsgate DVD on August 25 -- may seem like a fairly simple, lightweight indie movie, one of those quirky movies about a mismatched friendship. Hollywood loves movies about uptight misfits who need to be opened up and drawn out of their shell, and it loves movies about the loony, loopy oddballs who perform this service. At first glance, Goodbye Solo could have been just another forgettable formula entry. But under the gentle, wise, subtle direction of Ramin Bahrani, it becomes something special, a genuine sleeper. It may be the best DVD you rent this summer. (It will include a commentary track by Bahrani and cinematographer Michael Simmonds.)
In the film, Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane, in a terrific film debut) comes from Senegal and lives in North Carolina, drives a cab, is married to a Mexican woman (Carmen Leyva), and is expecting his first child. He dreams of becoming a flight attendant and constantly studies his manual. He also has a whip-smart stepdaughter Alex (Diana Franco Galindo) who likes to spend time with him. Solo is like somebody you might know and wish to be more like; he has lots of friends and seems to trade in favors more often than money. (His wife, however, sees him as dreamy and impractical.)
Read more and watch the exclusive clip after the jump ... Then we have aging good-ol'-boy, William (character actor Red West, also known as a close friend of Elvis Presley's) in his cab. He requests another pickup several days later and offers Solo a nice chunk of change for the service of driving him to the top of a mountain and leaving him there. Solo suspects that William intends to kill himself, so he spends the next several days trying to become William's best friend, using his special brand of laid-back wisdom to try to get get the old man to change his mind. On paper, there's little here you haven't seen before, but in practice, the film has a real organic flow, it's never forced, nor sentimental, and it seems to simply exist, moment by moment. It's a film you can get lost in.
Check out this exclusive clip, in which William gamely quizzes Solo in preparation for his upcoming test and job interview.