As an avid movie-goer, I was tired of gimmicky super-hero movies and bloated franchise films. Those kinds of blockbusters serve a purpose: providing the perfect background noise for cramming fistfuls of over-priced popcorn into your mouth. But, “California Solo” is like a piece of fine dark chocolate. It sits on the tongue, melting slowly, and the flavor stays with you long after the last bite has dissolved.
It has been two weeks since I watched “California Solo,” and I cannot get Lachlan MacAldonich out of my head. His character is so complete, dynamic, and layered—Lachlan isn’t a character in a movie but a character in life. Some of his flaws he puts on display for all the world to see while others he keeps carefully hidden. He is hardly aware of his own misery, which gives us a sense of compassion for him despite the mistakes he has made.
We get the sense that “California Solo” is not a beginning or an end for Lachlan. Rather, the events of the film serve as a turning point in Lachlan’s life. His past is riddled with mistakes, his present with an almost desperate avoidance, and his future with a surprising glimmer of hope.
There is so much to the story Marshall Lewy has written that it cannot possibly be contained in a 90-minute film. This is why “California Solo” stays with you for so long after the credits roll. There are a hundred little back-story avenues which Lewy alludes to, but does not have time to full explore. However, Lewy maintains a masterful control over his story, providing the audience with enough details to recreate Lachlan’s past in our own minds.
In recent years Robert Carlyle has brought villains (I use the term loosely) to life on sci-fi/fantasy shows such as Once Upon a Time and SGU Stargate Universe. Carlyle has a knack for bringing empathy to characters who are difficult to love because they are so adept at pushing people away. His portrayal of Lachlan is no less than what we’ve come to expect of his exceptional abilities. Carlyle disappears into the role so completely that the focus is on Lachlan not the actor bringing him to life.
The supporting cast is fantastic. Danny Masterson’s injects energy into the film with his portrayal of DJ/fanboy, Paul. Lachlan’s boss and friend, Warren, is portrayed by A. Martinez with the gravity the role demands. Scenes with Savannah Lathem, as Lachlan’s daughter, are especially touching when they could have been clichéd and melodramatic. The cast works well together creating just the right kind of tension and chemistry.
“California Solo” fills the void of the post-Oscar season and cures your summer blockbuster blues. Lewy and Carlyle bring you a story so rich and genuine, you’ll forget to eat the popcorn altogether.
Original date of publication: April 4, 2013
Also available on: IMDB.com