Solitary Man is directed by both Brian Koppelman and David Levien who have worked together many times before. They directed Knockaround Guys back in 2001 and have written well known flicks such as “Runaway Jury” and “Oceans Thirteen”. For the record, this movie is written solely by Brian who also wrote “Rounders” back in the day. It stars Michael Douglas and other notables such as Susan Sarandon and Danny DeVito. Run time is approximately one hour and thirty minutes.
Michael Douglas plays “Ben Kalmen”, a very successful family man who runs a very successful car dealership under his own name. Things are in great shape until Ben hears some disturbing from his doctor concerning his heart. He actually doesn’t hear much because out of shock, he leaves the office and the movie picks up six and a half years later where Ben’s life is quickly spiraling out of control. We soon learn that Ben has lost his business, his wife and pretty much all self respect. He dates a woman for her connections, and gives the impression that he is not completely faithful. Ben quickly loses nearly everything and is reduced to receiving financial help from his Daughter and is given a place to stay by an old University friend “Jimmy” Played by Danny DeVito.
The movie certainly gets off to a slow start but continues to pick up steam throughout. At first it’s hard to tell where the movie is going until it “ben” begins to have more complex interactions with some of the characters. Although Douglas is great, It’s the supporting cast that makes this movie. Susan Sarandon plays Ben’s wife “Nancy” and is very much a calming character. Although Ben did some very bad things, she seems to be so calm and not does not judge the things her husband has done. Sarandon does very well here. Ben also develops a relationship with a university student named “Daniel” played by Jesse Eisenberg who will be in the upcoming movie “The Social Network”. Daniel is a shy but easily trusting character who bonds with Ben because he seems to open up just a little when he is around. Another fine job of acting here. Most of all, I was shocked and amazed by the performance of Danny DeVito. In my opinion this is some if not the best acting I’ve seen from DeVito. In a pretty serious role, DeVito plays the all around good guy. He cares about others before himself, lives a modest life and tries to help a man when he’s down. The movie is worth watching just to see DeVito play this role. I found myself actually taking DeVito seriously which doesn’t always happen. A+ to him indeed.
Like I said, the only fault here is that the movie take awhile to get the motor running and it did take away from the overall experience just a little bit. There are more than few slow points and some scened take a little too long to develop. I was hoping to learn just a little more of Ben’s past than we did but it was all together well written.
Overall, I say this movie is worth a watch. It didn’t make huge bucks at the box office but may have done better with some more aggressive marketing. Once yo see the film and you should, you may find the role for Douglas is a little on the ironic side given his relationship history but you’ll have to watch to know what i mean. I look forward to future movies from our directors and writer (especially Rounder 2). and wish them the best. Best movie ever, No but a definite step in the right direction.