Starring: Alain Hernández, Aura Garrido, Ben Temple
Director: Hugo Stuven
Running Time: 91 mins
Solo is a Spanish film about a surfer who, after finding himself stranded on a deserted coast after an accident, reflects on his past as he fights to stay alive.
With a premise that’s reminiscent of 127 Hours, Cast Away and The Shallows, you’ll likely think that you’ve seen Solo before, but it’s a film that takes a bold and often impressively artistic tack on the survival genre, all the while providing strong dramatic intrigue that makes for an engrossing watch throughout.
First off, when it comes to providing an engaging and exciting survival thriller, Solo does a good job, albeit not quite what you may expect. Again, if you’ve seen 127 Hours, which is the closest recent comparison to this film, you’ll know that an hour and a half-long film with only one main lead can still provide stunning dramatic power and excitement.
When it comes to Solo, however, the film takes a slightly different approach, with a rather unorthodox screenplay structure. While still featuring the effective duality of the present danger of surviving against nature and the epiphany as our main character looks into his past, as is the case in 127 Hours, the film’s chronology is what makes it different, and ultimately works both to and against its advantage.
On the downside, the non-linear structure of the film is a little confusing to start off with, as you’re left a little in the dark about what’s really going on when, and which main character you should be identifying with as we look back on a couple of occasions in this man’s life. Fortunately, the screenplay irons out a lot of that confusion as it goes – often with spectacular results – but the film’s biggest weakness is certainly that opening act, with a bold and unorthodox style that seems for suited to a final act than an opening one.
With that said, much like 127 Hours, the film does a great job at creating brilliant dramatic intrigue and emotion as we take a desperate look back into the main character’s past, all the while featuring an engrossing and often even nail-biting look at how he plans to survive such an ordeal, left completely stranded on a deserted beach while heavily injured.
It’s not quite edge-of-your-seat, intensely moving stuff, but the film has a strongly dramatic atmosphere that’s furthered by striking directing and music throughout. As a result, more than being just a survival thriller, Solo works brilliantly as an intimate character piece, all the while featuring an often heavy-going intensity that brings the gravity of the peril at hand to life in stark fashion.
Overall, I was really rather impressed by Solo. While it gets off to a bit of a shaky start, its bold and artistic approach to storytelling ultimately pays off with riveting emotional drama and nail-biting survival tension, furthered by brilliant directing and atmospheric music throughout, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.6.