In California Solo, Robert Carlyle plays Lachlan MacAldonich, the former guitarist of a somewhat successful Britpop band. MacAldonich has long since given up music and is quite haunted by the tragic death of his older brother, who was the band’s lead singer. He currently lives a meagre existence working on a farm by day, while spending his nights recording a podcast about tragic rockstar deaths. One day MacAldonich is arrested for a DUI, which puts him in danger of being deported back to Scotland. He had grown content with his new life in California and is desperate to find a way to stay in the country, including possibly reconnecting with is ex-wife and daughter.
For an indie drama, I thought that California Solo was a decent enough film. The film is built entirely around Carlye’s performance and I thought that he does a good job at portraying MacAldonich as a man haunted by demons and desperate to keep the new life he built for himself. That said, it would have been better if the film went a bit more into MacAldonich’s past with substance abuse, which he still suffers from to an extent. There is a scene late in the film, where he suffers a huge drunken breakdown. However, there seemed to be no real serious consequences, other than the deportation issues he was already having. The film has a bit of a romantic subplot involving a girl named Beau (Alexia Rasmussen), MacAldonich meets up with. I have to say that I wasn’t entirely satisfied with this aspect of the film and the subplot seems quietly dropped by the end of the film. However, I do have to say that one of my favourite moments of the film comes when MacAldonich sings Beau a song, which happens to share the same title of the film. I also have to mention the brief appearance of That 70s Show’s Danny Masterson, who plays Beau’s boyfriend Paul, a local Britpop-loving DJ. Overall, I will say that, even though California Solo didn’t have to most original plot in the world, I thought that is was enjoyable based solely on the performance of Robert Carlyle. While I wish the film went more into his demons, Carlyle gives a good multilayered performance that makes the viewer care about what happens to the character. As such, I will give the film my recommendation by on this performance alone. 8 | LIKED IT Califorina Solo is now playing in Toronto at the Carlton Cinemas