By Don Simpson | April 3, 2013
Director: Marshall Lewy
Writer: Marshall Lewy
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Alexia Rasmussen, Danny Masterson, Kathleen Wilhoite, Savannah Lathem
Lachlan (Robert Carlyle) is a former Britpop guitarist who has retired to a quiet existence in a quaint agricultural town somewhere in the vicinity of Los Angeles. A far cry from the glamorous star he once was, Lachlan toils away on an organic farm and sells produce at the Silver Lake farmers’ market; then, by night, he records a podcast that recounts the deaths of great musicians. It is a very solitary life that Lachlan leads, drowning his sorrows in whiskey while wasting away in a tiny, nondescript apartment.
Beau (Alexia Rasmussen) is an amateur chef who meets Lachlan while shopping at the farmers’ market. Her boyfriend Paul (Danny Masterson) is a Britpop DJ and one of Lachlan’s biggest fans. While Paul fawns over Lachlan, Lachlan develops a hopeless crush on Beau, but the scent of his depression and desperation keeps her at arm’s length.
On one fateful night, Lachlan is pulled over for a DUI. When combined with a previous drug offense, Lachlan’s deportation from the United States seems eminent. Lachlan can only keep his green card if he can prove that his absence would cause “extreme hardship” to another U.S. citizen, such as a spouse or relative. This prompts Lachlan to track down his estranged ex-wife (Kathleen Wilhoite), with whom he has a 14-year-old daughter Ari (Savannah Lathem); but, if anything, Lachlan’s presence seems to be more of a hardship to his ex-wife than his absence. Thus, Lachlan seems doomed to return to the U.K.
California Solo is a contemplative tale about post-fame life, depression, alcoholism, and dead-beat fatherhood. Writer-director Marshall Lewy’s film may seem like it should be a redemptive story, but Lachlan is not a redemptive character. Lachlan is a character who has existed in a state of stasis for quite a while; when he is shaken from that state by the possible repercussions of his DUI, it triggers a rapid spiral downward. Lachlan is not a likable or sympathetic person by any means; everything that happens to him is his own doing. He may not want to return to the U.K., but his actions ensure that there will be no other outcome. This will probably make California Solo a difficult film for some to consume, but Robert Carlyle’s astounding performance makes this exasperatingly morose tale totally worthwhile.