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Yo, William.  Yo!  Hey, big dog!  Yo...hey...yo!

Yo, William. Yo! Hey, big dog! Yo...hey...yo!

R

Souleymane Sy Savane, Red West

William: I rode motorcycles.
Solo: You mean the big ones?
William: …Harley.
Solo: Harley!?  Yo!  You were in a gang, stuff like that?  Yo, William!  Open road, woman, biker bar?  You have a tattoo, right?
William: (shows tattoo)
Solo: Oh my God!  That’s what I’m talkin’ about, man!  Original playa!

Solo (Savane) is a taxi driver from Senegal who is studying to become a flight attendant.  When one of his fares, William (West), offers to pay Solo $1,000 to drive him to a specific spot on a mountain, seemingly to commit suicide on a specific date, Solo befriends the old man, trying to find clues as to why he would want to carry out his plan.

The director of this movie, Ramin Bahrani, likes to make simple movies with actors who have little or no experience.  Most of the actors in this movie fall into that category, and you can tell.  Though, Red West is the exception.  He is a veteran actor, and he does just as good a job – or better – at creating a sense of a real person as the first time actors do.  He keeps it simple and real, and he never lapses into any overdramatic emotional moments that wouldn’t be true to his withdrawn, hard-edged character.  Still, despite the character’s reluctance to talk about himself, we learn a few things about him.  We learn that he was a biker, and that he has more family than he first wants to admit to.

How do we learn about this?  Through Solo’s persistence in befriending William, that’s how.  And Solo steals the movie in the process.  He hasn’t made many movies, but I get the feeling that Souleymane Sy Savane will be asked to make many more in the future.  The man just owns the screen when he’s on it, always trying to be the optimist, but often getting knocked back down to reality by characters that don’t see reason for optimism in their lives.  He adds energy to a movie that would otherwise lack it, similar to the way he tries to add energy to William’s life.

The two actors play off each other really well.  Not in the sense that they have some great comedic timing or anything like that.  It’s in the more subtle ways that certain things they say affect each other.  Every time it seems like Solo is breaking down one of William’s barriers, he throws another one up and gets defensive.  But it could be that Solo is having more of an effect on William than he knows…

This is a slow moving movie, but I rarely felt uninterested in it.  Plus, it’s beautifully photographed, especially the final scenes.  Add that to the two great performances by the leads, and you’ve got a pretty solid movie.

There are 6 steps a flight attendant is supposed to take in case of a water landing.  But I don’t remember what they are…

10 – 1.1 for some of the supporting performances being kind of poor – 1 for a few slow sections + .1 for Solo being so entertaining = 8.0