They say that life imitates art, and nothing could be closer to the truth in the new Michael Douglas movie Solitary Man. As Douglas in real life faces a very dangerous health scare, the movie he made on the run up to this discovery finds his character of Ben Kalman facing the same. Whereas in real life for however Douglas is facing up to his illness, here you find Ben backing away from it, and trying to hide.
When Ben receives a warning about his health, rather that taking his doctors advice and getting it checked out, he hits the skids, runs and hides. One of the most successful car dealership owners in America, Ben’s career goes intofreefall after divorce from his wife over his adultery, and his desire to play the field. Things seem pretty bad, but when his girlfriend asks him to take her daughter to her new college for an interview, things get much worse. Sexual tension between him and his girlfriend’s daughter can only lead to one thing, the bedroom. And returning home the girl cant wait to tell her mother what he’s been up to. Now with his business completely lost, and without any cash its time for Ben to take a good look at his life.
Solitary Man was surprisingly very good, I had my doubts at the start, Douglas seems to have followed his father in that after reaching his 50’s his movie career has begun to slide. Once the highest paid actor on the planet Douglas has been working one low end project after another, and for a fraction of his fee from the 80’s and 90’s. Thankfully for once he has scored well in this movie, sadly however due to lukewarm reception by the media it only received limited cinema screenings across the globe. There is however chance for the movie to shine on DVD and Blu-ray.
Solitary Man is incredibly plausible from start to finish, Ben is a suave sophisticated man who despite being older, can charm pretty much any woman of any age into bed, hence the brief tryst with his girlfriends daughter. He knows how to dress, but more importantly knows what to say, he can look at a woman and tell everything about her. This is how he has dealt with his impending health fear, prior to this he was entirely faithful to his wife, played by SusanSarandon.
There is some real strength in the supporting cast; relative newcomer Imogen Poots plays the girl that causes it all to go wrong. Mary-Louise Parker plays his girlfriend, every bit as feisty as she is in popular HBO series Weeds.Zombielands Jesse Eisenberg plays Ben’s newfound young friend, someone who sees him as a role model; sadly this sees Eisenberg again pigeon holed into the school nerd role, but it does not matter here. Finally you have DannyDeVito making a series of brief performances as Ben’s oldest friend. Susan Sarandon delivers the best performance of the movie (including Douglas), it’s a subtle believable performance it’s almost like she’s not acting, simply in cruise control.
As you watch Solitary Man you realise its very much an observational piece of filmmaking, looking at all the characters you can perfectly relate to the majority of them, as Ben studies women you study the characters.
Solitary Man is a journey movie, you join Ben as he takes this journey, but as such is human nature you realises that he’s going to take just that little bit too much effort to change him.