Then you see Solitary Man and you no longer wonder. I don't mean that in a bad way. But this movie – the flip side to Up in the Air about a total ass who spends 90 minutes of movie time being an ass to everyone around him – is the feel-bad movie of the season.
Here's the catch. I believe it's a very good movie. I believe it has more to say than 85% of films that come out. And I think it's better than Up in the Air. If that has any influence on whether you'll see it, and then you later on want to shoot me, hear me out...
Michael Douglas is absolutely fascinating and uncompromising as a once legendary car salesman who's fallen from grace and into the depths of the lowest humanity. He's divorced. He says whatever vulgar obscenity comes to mind. He hits on women who could be his granddaughters.
There is no saving grace to him. We learn that he fell off the path of righteousness the day he learned his heart might be failing. But do we have any sympathy for him? Hell no. The movie makes you wonder whether he ever really was a good guy at all. He doesn't appreciate his daughter Jenna Fischer, he forgets his grandson's birthday, he asks ex-wife Susan Sarandon for money, and he sleeps with his girlfriend's daughter, and then tries to sleep with supposed new friend Eisenberg's girlfriend, too.
All of his actions add up to a movie that's distasteful, hard to take and meaningful. I sat there disgusted, worn out, and realized, I was supposed to feel that way. And then I started to focus on the performances and the dialogue. When Danny DeVito as his long-forgotten friend and Sarandon try to get through to Douglas, what they say makes sense. His conversations with them make sense. What he says back and how he acts isn't straight out of some cookie-cutter movie factory.
I didn't "enjoy" Solitary Man but I would highly recommend it to filmgoers looking for something that has substance and lingers. It's not as polished as Up in the Air but it's real and its characters are believable up to and beyond its ending…
If you have seen it, let me know what you thought. I think it may be Michael Douglas' best role, but let me know the ones you love…ones we should seek out…I also loved Danny DeVito, and if you haven't seen him in The Big Kahuna, add it to your queue – it's another fantastic film that has great dialogue and real value. Jesse Eisenberg fans, too, if you missed Adventureland, catch it. He's an awesome new talent, so tell me your favorites of his…I'm still hoping to catch Holy Rollers, despite the mixed reviews.