Solitary Man: Another Average Douglas Film
Jesse EisenbergMichael Douglas...
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Solitary Man revolves around Ben Kalmen
(Douglas), a 60-year-old car dealer that wasted away all of his accomplishments
on bad business decisions and indiscretions. After his divorce from Nancy
(Sarandon), his college sweetheart, Ben has started indulging his indiscrete impulses, not caring about the consequences or his girlfriend (Parker). His career is about to take a positive turn as he is closing in on an
important car dealership deal by using his girlfriend’s connections.
Aside from being an absent father to his only daughter Susan (Fischer) and
a poor role model to his grandson, things get worse for Ben when he becomes involved
sexually with his current girlfriend’s daughter Allyson (Poots) on a trip for a
Ben seems to be suffering a midlife crisis, preferring to engage with
younger people, especially females, and showing a self-destructive streak. So
in a way, it was a suitable choice to cast Douglas as the film’s lead. Despite
a strong supporting cast of Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fisher, Jesse Eisenberg, Mary
Louise Parker and Danny DeVito, unfortunately none of them get enough screen
time to shine in Solitary Man.
It’s fair to say that the acting is more than passable. Douglas seems
perfect for his role and gives a standard performance with some charisma,
making Ben as fascinating to watch as he is arrogant. Sarandon is perfect as the
ex-wife, while Jesse Eisenberg is not a necessary part of the equation, but
very believable as the stuttering nerdy college boy who for some reason looks
up to Ben. DeVito makes a cameo as Ben’s former classmate, who agrees to hire
Ben in his deli shop. Fisher doesn’t really break out of her character mould
from The Office, interjecting her
lines with the sighs of a long-suffering daughter.
Solitary Man follows a simple formula:
Michael Douglas plays the guy that you’d love to hate; and you may find
yourself deriving some pleasure from observing his downfall. The only lesson that
can be learned from this film is that people must face the consequences of their
poor decisions and impulses.
Even with its rather pointless plot, Solitary
Man largely rests on Douglas’ shoulders as an old-school actor with a loyal
fan base. Not funny enough to be a comedy and with little empathy felt for the lead; you’ll probably leave the film
appreciating what you have in life and hoping that you don’t end up like Ben.