Movie Review: 'California Solo' -- 3 stars

Alexia Rasmussen and Robert Carlyle in "California Solo"

Alexia Rasmussen and Robert Carlyle in "California Solo" (Credit: Alexia Rasmussen and Robert Carlyle in "California Solo" )

California Solo
3 stars
Directed by Marshall Lewy, Alexia Rasmussen
Starring Robert Carlyle
Not Rated

Lachlan MacAldonich is a lonely man, a Scottish immigrant working on a farm in California's Antelope Valley. Once a musician with a popular band and a happy life, he's now stuck scraping by each day, riding the rails to and from Los Angeles and dousing his sorrows at a working class bar. Nobody "gives a toss" about him, he says.

But in "California Solo," Lachlan's played by the underrated Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty") and he defies simple characterization. Cursed with serious demons, this is still a dynamic person, inhabited by Carlyle with great tact and sensitivity. It's strong naturalistic performance, with the actor relying on his big smile and sad eyes in equal measure, alternately strutting like a rock star and spiraling out of control.

The movie follows the commencement of deportation proceedings after a DUI lands Lachlan in hot water with immigration. The Green Card holder has a prior marijuana possession arrest and in the good old USA that's enough to send you packing.

But the legal trouble is just the precipitating event in Marshall Lewy's film, which is really the story of a person coming to terms with the wounds of a tragic past and facing up to responsibilities that can no longer be avoided. It's a contemplative human drama, melding still images of the pristine setting with Carlyle's tightly controlled portrait of Lachlan's inner torment.

Set during the third act of a man's life, "California Solo" finds that it's never too late to fix things. It's a quiet movie with a powerful message.


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