Film Review: Solitary Man

Michael Douglas fans can get a quick fix of him prior to the much anticipated sequel to Wall Street due out this Fall.  Solitary Man features Douglas in  another misguided capitalist character — Ben Kalmen.  Although much different than his Gordon Gecko character, Douglas gives one of the best performances of his career creating a deeply complex and interesting vehicle in the form of Kalmen, and Solitary Man is a rare film where the star appears in every scene in the movie.

Kalmen is an uber-wealthy owner of a string of New York car dealerships, and the film starts off with a flashback of a scene five years earlier where he receives news from his doctor about his heart.  Since that time, Kalmen is struggling to overcome an apparent financial scandal, and he is navigating through a complicated relationship with his on-screen love interest, Jordan Karsch (played by Mary-Louise Parker).  Karsch is the daughter of a powerful businessman with deep ties to the auto industry.

The movie starts out with Kalmen escorting Jordan’s daughter for a college interview at the school Kalmen attended — which now has a building named after him due to substantial donations on his part.  The daughter is quite attractive and flirtatious, and this trip serves as the backdrop for illustration of Kalmen’s inability to control his impulses and his proclivity to covet everything around him.  These personality traits serve to send the various elements of Kalmen’s life — including his personal and business interests — down a spiraling hole.

Douglas gives great depth to this character and is supported by a witty screenplay and strong performances by his supporting cast.  In addition to Mary-Louise Parker, several other stars including Susan Sarandon, Jesse Eisenberg and rising British star Imogen Poots add to the deep plot development containing within this movie.  Most noticeably, Danny Devito gives a stirring performance as Kalmen’s old college buddy who remains by his side even during his darkest moments.  Guys who enjoyed his famous Gecko character are sure to find this film entertaining even with its underlying anti-business slant.

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