Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans 'Kick-Ass' Creator Mark Millar Says A Hit-Girl Solo Movie Was Once In The Works With 'The Raid' Director Gareth Evans Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners 30 Films You Forgot Were Oscar Winners Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Review: Documentary 'Night Will Fall' Is A Powerful Reminder Of The Horrors Of The Holocaust Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: 'California Solo' Mixes Authentic Drama With Artificial Filler

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist November 29, 2012 at 5:57PM

Sometimes a life has to wash its hands of its best attributes in order to move on. So it goes for Lachlan (Robert Carlyle), the protagonist of “California Solo.” Doing modest work for a farmer’s market slightly off the grid, Lachlan’s youthful good looks have abandoned him, his wiry frame now dedicated to lifting barrels of radishes instead of strumming guitars. The days of starring in Brit-rock band The Cranks have been left behind, and Lachlan now nurses mysterious wounds from a career that ended in tragedy. When invited to celebrate his band’s legacy, he says, “I don’t do anything like that anymore.” Prompted further, he tersely says, “Anything interesting.”
0
California Solo

Sometimes a life has to wash its hands of its best attributes in order to move on. So it goes for Lachlan (Robert Carlyle), the protagonist of “California Solo.” Doing modest work for a farmer’s market slightly off the grid, Lachlan’s youthful good looks have abandoned him, his wiry frame now dedicated to lifting barrels of radishes instead of strumming guitars. The days of starring in Brit-rock band The Cranks have been left behind, and Lachlan now nurses mysterious wounds from a career that ended in tragedy. When invited to celebrate his band’s legacy, he says, “I don’t do anything like that anymore.” Prompted further, he tersely says, “Anything interesting.”

California Solo

Lachlan’s post-rock life isn’t happy, but he’s got a certain level of contentment. The past only revisits him on his own clock, as he hosts a regular podcast dedicated to rock’s more colorful final acts, titled “Flameout.” It’s significant foreshadowing, as a relatively unremarkable DUI leads to current immigration laws threatening his citizenship, legal unless compromised with convictions like this and a distant marijuana charge. “California Solo” moves deliberately through a legal maze that threatens a low-key but tenuous lifestyle, though his mostly-unspoken distant history makes a return to the U.K. a foreboding threat.

Carlyle’s performance is fascinating in its naturalism, and he wears this character like a scarf: comfortably, but close to the heart. It’s a standout element in a mostly quiet affair -- writer-director Marshall Lewy amps up a single guitar strum on the soundtrack to inflate a relatively pedestrian situation, where the actors playing lawyers and immigration agents are comparatively low-temperature, professional types that bring a modest sense of realism to the proceedings. “California Solo” is a character piece about a man all-too-willing to confess he is broken, but its strongest moments come from the mundane workaday details, whether it’s Lachlan on the farm, or his lawyer flipping through paperwork, presenting life-changing legal options as if they were just brushing their perfectly-coiffed hair.

California Solo

One of Lachlan’s Hail Mary chances of staying in the country depends on a provision that allows him to prove his worth to those around him, to avoid deportation by suggesting some sort of legacy. However, his cut ties with his own rock past prove to be a burden, and his lack of roots and melancholic solitude make “establishing one’s worth” difficult. On one level, the commentary on rock’s faded history is intriguing, and Lachlan’s pitiful attempts to establish his rock bonafides to the less knowledgeable are cringe-worthy in his own shame. But when he looks up a former flame and his estranged daughter, it also suggests they’re the closest thing he has to family, and that he has to justify himself as more than just an irrelevant artist.

“California Solo” only builds up as much realistic tension and conflict as it can before the seemingly-sensible Lachlan takes a significant right turn into self-destruction. Carlyle is a skilled actor, but there’s not much he can convey to show this desperate, sad character’s descent into minor bacchanalia. It’s a miscalculation, a third act reversal of the realism of the first two, and a betrayal of Carlyle’s wonderfully calibrated performance. “California Solo” rolls when it’s at its best, but in an attempt to rock, it only creates background noise, and you wonder where the nuance goes as he gets close to his daughter, telling her wicked stories of rockstar hangovers and bonding with the youth in an attempt to create a connection. But at this point, the movie cannot be trusted, as the character's already been tempted to develop relationships with his stubborn boss (A. Martinez) and his teenage son, and a local woman (Alexia Rasmussen) and her DJ boyfriend (Danny Masterson). By the time Lachlan tries to reconnect with family, it’s merely the latest in a checklist of failed connections, and what was once warm about “California Solo“ surrenders to schematics. [B-]

This article is related to: California Solo, Review, Robert Carlyle


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates