Continuing his worthwhile exploration of today's immigrant experience in America, Ramin Bahrani (below) comes up with his best film so far -- GOODBYE SOLO -- giving us a fuller emotional experience, a deeper study of character and more technically proficient moviemaking. After Man Push Cart (in which an immigrant's big secret is revealed to little effect) and Chop Shop (the young immigrant here
is constantly running, rushing, working -- just to keep in place), Bahrani's latest quiets down and allows us to spend some time with an immigrant who is actually rather relaxed and learning to cope with our America.
Perhaps it helps that we are no longer in Manhattan or Queens, NY, where life tends to move fast. Instead, Bahrani sets his new film in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where the slower pace proves a boon to characters and viewers alike, as Solo, a Senegalese emigrant, now drives a taxi, earns a decent wage and is living with a strong-willed Mexican woman and her daughter. In fact, he's secure enough that he's studying hard to become a airline flight attendant. The initially improbable, but soon beautifully fleshed-out relationship that evolves between Solo and one of his fares -- an elderly fellow named William -- provides the motor for the movie, which chugs along, building up a nice head of steam (a little mystery and suspense, a lot of caring) as it moves toward an ending that satisfies even as it withholds.
Roadside Attractions is opening Goodbye Solo on Friday, March 27 at NYC's Angelika Film Center, with a limited-release, national rollout to follow.