Magazine article The Christian Century

Goodbye Solo

Magazine article The Christian Century

Goodbye Solo

Article excerpt

Goodbye Solo.

Written and directed by Ramin Bahrani.

Starring Souleymane Sy Savane and Red West.

An old Senegalese proverb says, "An elder who dies is like a library that burns." This belief is at the heart of the small but moving independent film Goodbye Solo, directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani. It's also the conviction that drives the main character, Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane), an upbeat Senegalese immigrant to the U.S.

While driving a cab in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Solo encounters the grim William (Red West), a 70-year-old who is losing his grip on life. After a late-night ride home, William makes a proposition. In two weeks he wants the young cabbie to drive him up to Blowing Rock, a mountain ledge outside of Winston-Salem, and leave him there. It seems clear that William means to end it all. Solo makes it his mission to convince the old man that his life still has meaning.

In the meantime, we get to know Solo, a cheery dreamer who lives with Quiera (Carmen Leyva), his tough-as-nails Latina wife, who is pregnant with his child, and with Quiera's nine-year old stepdaughter, Alex (Diana Franco Galindo). Solo's goal is to become a flight attendant, a profession that would allow him to escape the confines of his taxi and soar through the skies. We are also introduced to other immigrants--cabbies, assorted drug dealers and various merchants, many of whom gather at the local bar where Solo's ex-wife serves drinks.

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The more we learn about Solo, the less we seem to know about William, who is shuffling through his days with the demeanor of a death-row inmate. …

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