Thursday, 21 June 2012

California Solo - EIFF 2012

Robert Carlyle.

Do you need another reason?

Robert bloody Carlyle.

He's one of those actors who manages to be good even when the material might not be...always worth watching.  An actor with real ability and range.

Also...he's just cool.



Yes, so?

In "California Solo" Carlyle plays a former Britpop star who, after the death of his brother (the bands lead singer) fades into obscurity and is now managing a farm outside of Los Angeles.

It's from this terrifically simple premise that director Marshall Lewy manages to craft a warm hearted, truthful and convincing film that has something to say about love, family, hope, fear and the horrors of loneliness and guilt.  Most importantly though he has managed to say something about our fame obsessed society by holding a mirror up to the supposed glamour of it all and showing us that the reality can be lives destroyed by expectation and failure.

When Carlyles improbably named Lachlan MacAldonich gets pulled over while driving under the influence he finds the stable life he has built for himself after the paparazzi stopped snapping slowly begins to unravel.  The D.U.I charge brings to light an old drugs charge that leads to interest in him from immigration officials.

With no money, no family and no real friends Lachlan finds himself in a vulnerable position.  Spiraling out of control and growing increasingly desperate he eventually turns to a long forgotten ex-wife and a daughter he barely knows exists for help.  Ultimately he discovers that you always end up paying for your mistakes...even if that payment is delayed.

This film could have been a disaster...the Britpop idea could have seen a soundtrack jam-packed with Oasis, Blur and Pulp records, Carlyle could have spent the entire film with a Mockney accent and a parka and his redemption could have come in the form of a reunion of his band "The Cranks".

Thankfully Lewy is a sharper writer than that and Britpop stays firmly in the background with only a brief snippet of the classic Charlatans track "The Only One I Know" as evidence of a scene that few outside of the UK even knew existed.  Instead Lewy focuses on the man who has lived his life in the fast lane but has now been forced onto the hard shoulder...he has created a believable character and one who, thanks to Carlyle, is able to take the audience with him on his journey from security to chaos.

California solo...but never so low.

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