One of the most cheering cinematic trends of late is the blossoming of a style that could be called American postindustrial neorealism. Filmmakers such as Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy," "Wendy and Lucy"), Courtney Hunt ("Frozen River") and Jake Mahaffy ("Wellness") are making movies that, like those of Italian neorealists of the 1940s, are deeply rooted in their time and place, giving viewers by turns harrowing and poetic glimpses into life as it is lived, right now.
The master of the movement is Ramin Bahrani, an American of Iranian descent, who made a quietly sensational debut in 2005 with "Man Push Cart," following it up with an even more accomplished sophomore effort, "Chop Shop." Bahrani's new movie, "Goodbye Solo," offers further proof that he is one of the best reasons to keep going to the movies.
As "Goodbye Solo" begins, a Senegalese immigrant named Solo (Soulymane Sy Savan) is driving a cab in Winston-Salem, N.C., and picks up a crusty old geezer named William (Red West). William asks Solo to pick him up again in two weeks' time, then deliver him to Blowing Rock, a windswept peak in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. What transpires between the two men -- one an unstoppable force of faith and compassion, the other an unmovable object of hopelessness and finality -- is nothing short of miraculous, as fragile connections are made and lost and made anew. Like all of Bahrani's films, "Goodbye Solo" is visually simple and stunning, especially the haunting nightscapes of Solo's perambulations. But more important, "Goodbye Solo" is driven by deep feeling and sensitivity. Don't miss it.
-- Ann Hornaday (May 8, 2009)
Contains nothing objectionable. Ramin Bahrani will answer questions after Friday's and Saturday's 7:30 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. screenings.