Film is one of the most effective ways to address human issues. California Solo is an engaging drama which follows a character by name of Lachlan who has just a few problems. Like all people in the world, Lachlan is flawed. He is trying to survive and faces roadblocks along the way. California Solo is a genuine film. The characters and the plot are as real as it gets. Few films these days match the emotional intensity of this one and that’s really unfortunate.
Lachlan MacAldonich (Robert Carlyle) is a former Scottish rocker, turned Californian farmer. His rockstar lifestyle is behind him but he still manages to have run-ins with the law. With a brand new DWI charge under his belt, he faces possible deportation. Lachlan is happy in California. He has just begun to settle down and wants nothing more than to stay in the states. The threat of being deported forces Lachlan to explore many things about himself such as unfortunate events his spotty life.
Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting) delivers a truly mesmerizing performance in California Solo. Not only is his character believable but he is in recent times, one of film’s most memorable personas. The whole Scotsman struggling to make ends meet and comply with the law in California is very funny. It’s a simple story made complicated by the characters’ questionable choices.
There are a few key themes presented in California Solo. One of them is alcoholism. Lachlan is an alcoholic and he pays the price for this indiscretion. The film is almost a cautionary tale, warning viewers not to follow in the main character’s footsteps. Lachlan also has a young daughter whom he has been estranged from her whole life. His marriage crumbled years ago and his relationship with his daughter went with it.
Failed relationships and doomed enterprises seem to be what make up the central theme of California Solo. Lachlan was in a Britpop band known as the Cranks and he now spends his nights recording a podcast, reminiscing, discussing the history of rock and roll and whatnot. A microphone and a bottle of liquor seem to be one Lachlan’s few enjoyable hobbies. These moments of reflection are what keep Lachlan grounded. Thinking back to a simpler time as a rocker without the threat of deportation and having to face the harsh reality of the present.
California Solo should have been titled Lachlan’s World because everyone in the film other than Lachlan doesn’t really seem to matter. There are coworkers, old friends and family members who all seem like they are living under Lachlan’s crazy roof. The viewer goes on a quest to see just how ridiculous things can get when you are associated with the former Crank member. There is little focus on anyone other than Lachlan and that can either be really awesome or just a wee bit sad. Watch for the estranged father-daughter relationship and you’ll know just what I mean.
Writer-director Marshall Lewy (Blue State) is an independent filmmaker bordering on mainstream. His choice of using Carlye as the main actor is a thing of artistic genius. The words he has provided and the gritty, shaky camera all result in a film worthy of anyone’s attention. Sure, the supporting cast is a bit underused and underdeveloped but that doesn’t matter because Robert Carlyle is the main event. California Solo is his show and no one else really matters.
If you are going to see one film focusing on human drama this year, California Solo is a solid choice. The combination of Robert Carlyle and Marshall Lewy is absolutely superb. Together, they make cinematic magic and their work will be remembered for decades to come. It’s even possible that this film be nominated for an Academy Award. Carlyle certainly deserves an Oscar or at least a nomination because his genuine performance is truly one for the ages. There are a lot of films out there but few touch on sensitive subjects and handle them with such tact. California Solo is a winner.
"California Solo" opens November 30, 2012 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Martin Guigui. Written by Marshall Lewy. Starring Robert Carlyle.