Solo is an awesome name. Think of the great movie characters who use it. Intergalactic rogue Han Solo, suave UNCLE agent Napoleon Solo. To these ranks we now add Senegalese cab driver Solo, from the film Goodbye Solo who in his own eyes is equally heroic. Though actually, he is not quite as exciting as the other two. But hey, he’s in an arthouse film, what does he expect. Well I’ll tell him what not to expect: adventure, escapism and a happy ending. Because whilst Solo is the optimistic heart of Goodbye Solo, it is the shit life throws at him that is the meat and potato of the movie. He drives a cab in a shitty little town, but he rents the cab because his own one has broken down. He is in a relationship with a woman who doesn’t take him seriously. He is training to become an air steward, and is finding the tests hard. He is a Senegalese immigrant trying his best to provide for his parents back home, and provide for his girlfriend and her daughter.

Really the last thing he needs is the aggravation of a grumpy old git who he suspects will commit suicide. And for all the naturalism and intense character studies in Goodbye Solo, that is the problem with the film. I can buy Solo’s compassion, and stabs to talk the crochety old fella out of topping himself, he is a nice bloke. But from going from concerned nice bloke to invasive, stalkerish and eventual room-mate does not ring true. Perhaps it is all displacement activity while other aspects of Solo’s life are going badly, but it just does not seem like a real character in this situation.And because the relationship doesn’t ring true, the emotional investment Solo seems to place in the old man is not instilled in the audience. We root for Solo, and we know that he has better things to do to sort his life out than (this being an indie film) a futile stab at saving an old guy. Better things such as stop THRUSH, and fixing the Millennium Falcon so he can bash yet another Death Star.