How did this film fly under the radar? It is one of the best films of the year and I am just seeing it now on DVD. It contains one of Michael Douglas’ best performances and that is saying something. All the sites I go to for box office information tell me that this film never expanded wider then 177 theatres. That is a travesty. This film deserves to find a real audience. I can’t sit back and let it accept the same fate as “Wonder Boys”, another woefully under seen film with an amazing performance by Douglas.
In “Solitary Man” Douglas plays Ben Kalmen. He is a formerly successful car dealer whose life has started to come apart due to bad business decisions, and poor romantic choices. He is slowly going broke and is reduced to borrowing money from his daughter played by Jenna Fischer. One of his biggest issues seems to be that he cannot accept his age or keep control of his sexual needs.
He cheated on his ex wife played by Susan Sarandon and makes the fatal mistake of sleeping with his current girlfriends eighteen year old daughter. The only high points of his life is his love for his grand son and his relationship with his daughter. But those begin to deteriorate quickly as well.
He eventually finds himself working at a run down diner that is owned by one of his old college friends. He even manages to alienate a student that has taken a shine to him played by Jesse Eisenberg.
The film is co directed by David Levien and Brian Koppelman. Together they work masterfully from a script by Koppelman. They see this man inside out and portray him as honestly as possible. Douglas plays him as a man who unwisely embraces the needs he thinks he has. It is hard to balance charisma and sadness but Douglas does it so effortlessly.