Ben Kalmen is a car salesman of the worst kind. Not only is he slick, greedy and shallow, but he also believes his own lies. Michael Douglas stars as Kalmen in director Brian Koppelman’s “Solitary Man,” a depressing representation of a man who throws caution to the wind, lives like there’s no tomorrow and lives without any regard for anyone but himself.
When Kalmen finds out there was an irregularity in his EKG, he tells himself that if he acts like a 20-year-old frat boy he can cheat death. He chases women that are more than half his age. He pulls some fraudulent business deals and suavely avoids prison. He pushes the limits until they are a faint dot in the distance, and he is left to celebrate his unethical and immoral victories alone.
Always alone, a solitary man.
Douglas’ portrayal of a man whose only interest in life is himself is believable and complete. There is no doubt that he is an awful creep, but there is something about his performance that propels the film forward. You have to see if he can ever get himself out of the grave he has dug himself. He is human, after all. There must be something un-evil about him if his daughter (Jenna Fischer) and his ex-wife (Susan Saradon) keep coming back regardless of the awful things he does.
“Solitary Man” is not uplifting. It is not funny or suspenseful. But it will make you think. Think about mortality and family and decency and love. You think about it because it is so lacking in Kalmen’s skewed interpretation of his life, an interpretation not based on reality, but based on lies.
Solitary Man is a depressing drama with a great cast that will make you think. A word of warning, if you don’t like open-to-interpretation endings don’t watch this movie because ultimately you have to decide if Kalmen is really as solitary as he seems?