Solitary Man

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Michael Douglas give his most accomplished and satisfying performance in a decade, since Curtis Hanson’s “The Wonder Boys” in 2000, in “Solitary Man,” a dryly humorous and ironic tale of Ben Kalmen, a fifty something New Yorker and former successful car dealer, who through his own bad choices had lost his entire business.   

The indie film, which is sharply observed and deftly directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, from Koppelman's original screenplay, is more than a suitable star vehicle for Douglas, boasting various narrative and acting pleasures.
 
Kalmen is in a rapidly deteriorating state of existence, but he is the kind of man who refuses to go down (or out) quietly and honorably. In fact, when the story begins, Kalmen is on the verge of a comeback, but some of the same motivations that led to his demise are threatening to take him down again
 
Kalmen’s family and personal lives are messy, to say the least. He's divorced from Nancy (Susan Sarandon), his college sweetheart and the one person who knows him better than anyone.  Although he still finds the time for his daughter Susan (Jenna Fischer) and her adoring grandson, his role as more of a friend than father or grandfather is starting to wear thin on the family.
 
His girlfriend Jordan (Mary-Louise Parker) is the daughter of a very influential businessman who's on the board of a major auto manufacturer. If Kalmen can just keep his hubris in check for a little while longer, he’ll be back as big as he was before. But circumstances place Kalmen in very close proximity with the one girl he shouldn’t touch, throwing everything into jeopardy.
 
The entire ensemble is superlative. Susan Sarandon heads up the supporting cast in the role of Ben's wife Nancy, alongside Jenna Fisher ("The Office") who portrays Ben's daughter Susan, the incomparable Mary-Louise Parker, who plays Ben's Upper East Side girlfriend, and the very gifted newcomer, Imogen Poots, who’s cast as her daughter Allyson. Rounding out the supporting cast is Jesse Eisenberg (who also shines this season in David Fincher’s “The Social Network”) and Danny Devito as Jimmy.
 
But, ultimately, the film belongs to Douglas, who dominates each and every frame he is in. As he has demonstrated before (in the “Wall Street” movies and other features), as an actor, Douglas is particularly adept at portraying charismatic heroes who are morally and ethically flawed. In this respect, the aptly titled “Solitary Man” fits him as a silk glove. It’s a story about the power of charm and a how a truly charming man can get away with so much behavior for such an incredibly long time, until it starts becoming really corrosive from the inside out.