At times, life can suck. Especially if you screw your clients out of money and cheat on your girlfriend with her 18-year old daughter. Oh, and if you're dying. These are the challenges Michael Douglas faces in his latest drama - Solitary Man - which is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Douglas stars as Ben Kalman, a successful business and family man who became so caught up with his own charm that he made a series of life-changing mistakes. He now lives in a small apartment and is behind rent, has found himself blacklisted in his industry due to indiscretions committed against his girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker) and is watching his relationship with his daughter (Jenna Fischer) deteriorate before his eyes. Solitary Man is about self realization and that not everything fixes itself.
Michael Douglas turns in a strong performance doing what he does best: playing a slightly sleazy rich dude whose life is crumbling apart at the seams. Douglas is a consistent performer and one of the best actors working today, though after decades of such work he's clearly taken for granted. He's rarely considered for Oscars these days, but there's good reason for that: when was the last time you saw Michael Douglas play someone other than Michael Douglas?
Solitary Man is a good movie. It isn't overly dramatic, but co-directors Brian Koppelman and David Levien, with a screenplay by Koppelman, deliver an interesting character study of a man who has fallen so far but has yet to realize it himself. The supporting cast, which also includes Susan Sarandon, Jesse Eisenberg and Olivia Thirlby, turn in fine performances, and all around Koppelman and Levien paint a satisfying story.
As good as Douglas is, he unfortunately plays a character we've seen him in way too many times. Solitary Man itself feels like a movie we've seen him in before, too. There's nothing groundbreaking or unique about the movie, or at least it seems that way. Bottom line: it's well done, well acted, but it's what Michael Douglas does best. There's no challenge, intrigue or surprise. It is what it is expected to be.
Solitary Man is worth seeing, but I implore Michael Douglas to show how good he is by doing something completely out of his comfort zone. Until he does, these movies are going to feel like cash grabs - even if they aren't.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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