Films / California Solo
USA | Narrative Feature | 2012 | 94 min | Website
Director: Marshall Lewy
Awards: Special Selection Sundance Film Festival
Film source: Strand Releasing
A high-school dropout who got swept up in the glory days of the Manchester music scene, Lachlan (played by Robert Carlyle) was the guitarist in a culty 1990s rock band. But their bid for immortality was undercut by the sudden death of the talented frontman, Lachlan’s older brother. His guilt over having supplied the drugs that killed him has kept Lachlan from returning to the U.K. He now finds oblivion in a whiskey bottle every night while recording “Flame-Outs,” a podcast series “where we consider the tragic and sometimes spectacular deaths of the world’s greatest musicians.”
Lachlan is arrested early in the movie on DUI charges, and a conviction for marijuana possession from many years earlier comes back to haunt him. Despite being a legal resident in the U.S. for 12 years, he risks being repatriated unless he can prove that his removal would cause extreme hardship for a spouse or relative who is an American citizen.
As his options run out, Lachlan is forced to dredge up the past, contacting his estranged ex-wife (Kathleen Wilhoite) and 13-year-old daughter (Savannah Lathem) in a clumsy bid to work that angle. Lewy declines to go down the prosaic road of rescuing him. But a lovely scene between the smart, sensitive young girl (played with disarming delicacy by Lathem) and the father she has never known plants the seed for Lachlan to reclaim some kind of a life.