Robert Carlyle tries to save ‘California Solo’ but falls short
Written and Directed by Marshall Lewy
Starting today, Mar 1 2103, at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto, is the newest film from director Marshall Lewy and actor Robert Carlyle, California Solo. The film marks a return to film from Carlyle after some television work that has kept him busy for the last couple of years. So will California Solo have you lining up at the historic Carlton Cinema this week?
Lachlan MacAldonich (Carlyle) is former Britpop rock guitarist who has retreated into a comfortably numb existence in farm country in the countryside surrounding Los Angeles. By day he works on organic farm harvesting and traveling to the city’s farmers’ market to sell the farm’s produce. Each night he retreats to his crummy apartment to record “Flame-Outs,” his booze fuelled podcast that recounts the tragic deaths of great musicians. The only spark in his humdrum existence is Beau (Rasmussen), a lovely struggling actress and amateur chef who frequents the Silver Lake farmers’ market. One night Lachlan gets pulled over for a DUI, a charge that brings to light his past ‘rock star’ offences and threatens him with deportation.
California Solo is a meandering mess of a film. The script really does nothing to draw us in as it just flounders around looking for a foothold, content to lay all its cards down on the back of Carlyle’s performance. Carlyle is actually quite good here, his character being the only one that is even remotely fleshed out. He manages to bring some fire and gravitas to a role that desperately needs it. The rest of the cast is pretty one dimensional, not given much to do with the script provided, as they drift in and out fairly inconsequentially and have little to no impact at all. And after almost half the film is over we meet his ex-wife and teenage daughter, who have barely even been mentioned prior, who show up not as character’s to fill out further back story, but as a script device for a last ditch effort of Lachlan’s to stay in the country.
The film at least looks very nice as the scenery of the farm looks beautiful. The dinghy looking bar that Lachlan kills his time in on most nights looks particularly seedy and well worn. The research done into the music is thorough and on point, adding some level of authenticity to the podcast that Lachlan records.
Ultimately too meandering and unfocused to be effective, California Solo puts all of its cards on the back of Carlyle’s performance. Sadly the great turn by Carlyle is almost lost onscreen. California Solo is a mild non-recommend.
For more information on showtimes check the Carlton’s online schedule.
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