Everybody loves movie stars, mega-pricey set-pieces, and big dazzling spectacles, but when it comes to simple stories about (relatively) normal characters, your best bet is to focus on the indie fare. Treat yourself to a film festival some time soon and you'll find more movies like Solitude than you'll know what to do with: a three-person character study that feels a whole lot like a stage play and is more than a little, let's say, rough around the edges.
But if simple little "people stories" are your cup of tea, then obstacles like mega-low budgets and "no-name" casts should be much of an impediment for you, and if that's the case, then Solitude might give you something to much on. It's the story of a brother, a sister, a newcomer, and the sometimes very ugly ways in which human beings depend on one another. Hilary and Soledad, you see, are new lovers who've only stopped over at Louis' place to ask if they can borrow his car. Hilary wants to accompany her new girlfriend on a trip to Flagstaff ... but Louis is having none of it. Lou wants his sister right by his side, thank you very much, and he's willing to sink to some pretty emotionally grueling depths to keep her around.
If 102 minutes of ultra-angsty diatribes, smug-faced sarcasm, and twisted sibling co-dependence sounds like your cup of tea, Solitude might just be your new favorite movie. One suspects that co-directors Pi Ware and Susan Kraker could have streamlined their baby by trimming off some of the Act II redundancies, but the pair also shows a pretty knowing eye behind the camera. Plus, and this is a big one in my book, the three leads are really quite effective -- and it's not every day you come across an obscure indie drama that boasts three strong performances. As the ultra-neurotic Louis, Patrick Belton takes a little getting used to (for the first few scenes the guy's just six kinds of obnoxious), and as his estranged sister Hilary, Mary Thornton is nothing short of excellent.
So yeah, not much happens in Solitude aside from heated conversations, frequent verbal battles, and a handful of reluctant forgiveness. But if you've ever sat down and wondered if you're a little too "reliant" on someone else (particularly a sibling), then Solitude might have something to tell you. This movie treats co-dependence like it's a drug -- and in some ways, it often is.
Video: The fullscreen transfer is really no great shakes, what with the very grainy transfer and dark shadows afoot. But if you're well-versed in the language of micro-budget cinema, you'll be able to ignore the surface flaws and focus on the meat of the matter.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0, which dips down in volume from time to time -- mostly during the sexy bits.
Indican went kinda crazy in the extra department, which is always nice to see.
First up is an audio commentary with co-writers, co-directors, co-spouses Pi Ware and Susan Kraker, which is full of indie-style filmmaking anecdotes. It's actually quite a solid little chat-track, although I really wish the movie's soundtrack had been lowered a little more.
There's also a 4-minute BTS piece called The Story of Solitude, a trio of deleted scenes (plus one long sequence called "The Lost Tape), the Solitude theatrical trailer, and a bunch of previews for Exposed, Fabled, Hybrid, and Screen Door Jesus.
I'd be lying if I said that Solitude didn't get a little dry in the mid-section, but I still found its characters to be compellingly flawed and strangely interesting people. Sure, they're pretty selfish and obnoxious folks, but that doesn't mean their story's not worth telling.