In honor of Black History month, my roommate Katherine and I decided to watch an independent film whose back cover suggested that it dealt with issues involving southern racism. It is called “Goodbye Solo” and came out in 2009. I must say, we were a little disappointed because when it suggested it confronted issues of southern racism, we expected something completely different from what was portrayed. In fact, I would suggest that the film was more suggestive of inclusion than discrimination.
“Goodbye Solo” tells the story of an immigrant from Africa named Solo living in Winston-Salem, NC and trying to make ends meet as a cab driver. He wants to become a flight attendant but keeps failing the tests required for the position. His wife is a Latina woman who has a child from another father but is pregnant with Solo’s child. Solo picks up an old, crusty white man on his taxi route who is rude and indignant,William, and the plot begins to take form from there.
Though you are never really clear about William’s past, he reveals within a few minutes of the film’s beginning that he intends to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff in Blowing Rock, NC. William asks Solo to be his taxi driver for the next month until the date of March 20, when he intends to take leave of this world. Solo will drive William around Winston-Salem while he tidies up his accounts, belongings and familial connections in preparation for his last day.
The movie describes the relationship that forms between the old curmudgeon and the young African man full of optimism and zest for the American dream, which in theory is a really great idea for a movie.
However, it is terribly, terribly slow-moving.
Katherine and I had the patience to wait out the ending to see if William really was going to jump, but it definitely took some willpower.
I would honestly not recommend this movie for the reasons above but also because I have spent significant time in Winston-Salem and near the Blowing Rock area and I find it incredibly frustrating when movies inaccurately portray the setting. The movie’s website on IMDB even admits that there are geographic misrepresentations in the last scenes of the movie.
Final word: if you are looking for a movie about southern racism, this is not the one. If you are looking for something entertaining, this is also not what you want. If you are looking for something that will teach you patience, “Goodbye Solo” is your film.