In less than a year we have had “A Serious…”, “A Single…” and now a “Solitary Man”; played with delicious debauchery by Michael Douglas (who with time, grows to resemble his father, Kirk). Mr. Douglas as Ben Kalmen is the aging Lothario who with Faustian gusto seeks youth and virility in the arms of “barely” legal girls and women. He is amoral, shameless and raises sleaziness to the celestial level. But as much as he throws caution, relationships and love by the fistfuls into the wind there is something illusive and charming about the man that defies logic and try as one might you discover yourself rooting for him. We want him to win back his integrity, his wealth and his family; to wake up and acknowledge that no one succeeds in tricking death; gods, kings, and mortals have tried; Sisyphus relished temporary victory, but inevitably the grim Reaper, grinningly remains undaunted and undefeated. Michael Douglas triumphs with this phenomenal, insightful, even poignant characterization of a man who has lost his way, but not his vision.
The secondary female roles are outstanding: Susan Sarandon, in buxom glory, is splendid and wise as the ex wife; Jenna Fisher as Susan, his long suffering and understanding daughter is remarkable as his “confessor”. She is the parent to the child her father has morphed into.
The sumptuously beautiful Imogen Poots as Allison, the eighteen year old Siren is breathtaking in her portrayal of a woman, prematurely seasoned in the mystique of Kama Sutra, like a viper she sinks her teeth into the heart of her victim, injecting its venom, and exiting with a frigid and passionless spirit. Allison’s nefarious and iconoclastic intelligence is a force to fear and shun.
There are moments of frustration but they are outweighed by the tightly and finely tuned dialogue and the insurmountable humanity depicted by the entire cast.
Leaving the theatre Emily Dickinson’s pithy poem pranced through my head:
Because I could not Stop for Death-
He Kindly Stopped for Me-
The Carriage Held but just Ourselves-
Ben Kalmen’s Carriage is years from the departure date.