California Solo Review

Robert Carlyle in California Solo Title: California Solo
Director: Marshall Lewy
Writer: Marshall Lewy
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen and Kathleen Wilhoite
Rating: n/a
Length: 94 mins
Release Date: December 7, 2012
Genre: Drama

Both written and directed by Marshall Lewy, California Solo tells the story of Lachlan MacAldonich, a former Britpop music star now living on a farm in Los Angeles. He gets arrested for drunk driving and faces deportation from the United States. The film shows us how his attempts to prevent the deportation from happening bring up old, deeply-buried memories.

Robert Carlyle is well cast in the role of MacAldonich and, as expected as the main character, is the best thing in the movie. To be fair, though, there isn’t a great deal from which to stand out. The supporting characters do what is expected of them and nothing more. It is interesting to see how the narrative unfolds and where MacAldonich’s actions take him, the main weapon in this film’s arsenal being the unpredictable outcomes of certain events.

I felt that it took too long for us to be told the reason for his extended stay in the United States and when it did come, like the rest of pivotal points in the film, it was little more than a change of key when it should have been a loud beat of a drum. This is an ongoing problem throughout and it does seem that Lewy has made the film with a target audience of non-committals as opposed to strong drama seekers. Perhaps he felt there wasn’t enough material to push the film into a more though-provoking and deeper area and so was happy to let it patter along.

It is only Carlyle’s portrayal of MacAldonich, especially during the character’s alcohol-fuelled podcasts and self-destructive booze-filled episodes, that make this film worth watching. Despite it bordering on a clichéd “fallen rock star” movie, the unpredictable outcomes do give it some realism. If he had over-played the role, I would perhaps have thought it too obvious what was going to happen. Herein lies the problem; California Solo cannot decide what it wants to be and so is mediocre.

What this movie does do however, is give more evidence to Robert Carlyle’s superb ability as a character actor. His casting by Heidi Levitt and Michael Sanford was one of the better parts of the production. As such the title is apt in its representation of the importance of Carlyle’s presence. If this film were a song it would be background music, a tune that you wait to build to a crescendo that never happens and as a result you will struggle to remember how it goes.

I rate this two out of four, and that is for Carlyle’s performance.

 ★★☆☆ 

*Written by JP Wooding

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