Ben Kalman can’t catch a break. When New York’s honest car dealer decides he doesn’t necessarily need to be honest and his empire collapses beneath him, for some reason business people don’t want anything to do with him anymore. When he betrays his girlfriend in the sickest way possible, she cruelly refuses to forgive him. When he constantly misses his grandson’s birthday parties, and chronically hurts the people he loves, they’re being way to hard on him when they choose not to live with his mess anymore. As far as Ben is concerned, others are choosing to be resentful, bitter, vengeful, angry, and unforgiving to him. It does not occur to him that he bleeds completely dry anyone and everyone he comes in contact with. All they do is acknowledge that they have nothing left to give him.
Ben Kalman can’t catch a break. That is because his is a life that is dedicated to finding, facing, and following falsehood. If something is true — about his health, his relationships, or anything else — he would rather not know it. That is, of course, why he is solitary, since one cannot chronically ignore the truth and hope to have authentic relationships with other people. The pleasure of Solitary Man is that the audience gets to witness just how far down a person can go before they are forced, by life itself, to finally acknowledge the truth. For Ben, as for all of us when we reach a similar place, the choice still remains about what to do with the truth once we have seen it clearly.
Michael Douglas’s performance is fantastic, and he is supported by a fine cast including Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, and Jenna Fischer. Directed by Brian Koppelman.
3 1/2 stars out of 4.