Told through the duration of a single night, within the confines of a single apartment involving a cast of only five, Solo is the first film of new comer director Marcelo Briem Stamm. This film, much like its characters, isn’t all it seems, with a key focus on themes of deception, lies and judgement, the plot’s misleading twists and turns come to a chilling and sudden end.
Solo tells of two interweaving stories, the first being the tale of the present passionate single night relationship between pretty boy Manuel (Patricio Ramos) and diamonf in the rough Julio (Mario Veron), who together return to Manuel’s apartment after meeting each other following their chemistry on an online chat-room. Their night is filled with sexual passion as the men bond and reveal their insecurities regarding affection, commitment and above all, truth. Reassuring each other with promises that neither will lie to the other, they begin to plan and prepare a spontaneous romantic escape from Argentina for the next day. However, through the addition of a second story – a narrative of Manuel’s as he tells Julio of his past toils in romance (Briem Stamm’s opportunity to escape the confines of the apartment) – we come to see that the couple’s promises of not lying to each other is a recognized lie in itself.
The entwining of the two stories is somewhat disjointed by the subjective bias of Manuel’s narrative – it’s clear that the character is twisting the memories he recounts to Julio, hiding the truth of past events and his role in them. The result being that we the audience are always trying to second guess what this character is truly about. The constant second guessing isn’t limited solely to Manuel, the character of Julio is also apparently hiding something, and receives a string of questionable phone calls he’s all too keen to dismiss while in Manuel’s company.Although it’s undeniably irritating not knowing where you stand with either protagonist I found this very fitting with the themes and questions Briem Stamm seeks to convey throughout this film; ideas of wanting to know the truth, ideas of what the truth is and what it means to be told of it, and in direct involvement with the audience the idea of subliminal judgement and character favoritism.
All of this is important throughout Solo, as the pinnacle subject of the film is the subversion of the notion who it is you let into your house, with Briem Stamm violently bringing to life the notion of just whose house it is you enter.
However, this violent subversion affects the film’s overall coherency, not by way of its unpredictability but because its justification wasn’t explored as clearly or deeply so as to make it profound. It’s all very well and clever to subvert the old idea of inadvertently letting a burglar or psychopath into your house, but it felt as if Briem Stamm was running out of screen time in which to convey this. The last ten minutes of Solo are packed full of sudden character unveiling, plot twists and violent murders. Turning what initially seemed to be a slow paced, albeit stimulating anthropological feature into a horribly chliched and Americanized bloodbath.
Despite the somewhat blunt end to the film, its content is interesting and dialogue engaging, with decent acting skills demonstrated by the entire cast, Ramos and Veron in particular. The cinematography is also though evoking, in the confines of Manuel’s grey-scale themed apartment the color and nakedness of the mens skin along with the later contrasting red of blood create striking stroked of color in the film, alluding to unscripted voices and emotions to be interpreted by each individual audience member.
And so, despite being a little let down by the unjust end, I’d recommend Solo as a film worth watching for those of you who want in on a mental thriller, filled with second guessing and the piecing together of a very vague puzzle.
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