California Solo
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California Solo

Robert Carlyle on song in a rare star turn.

stars 2andahalf

You know that old chestnut about the faded-Britpop-star-cum-rural-Los-Angeles-farmhand who’s faced with deportation after a DUI arrest dredges up a decade-old drug conviction? Well, neither did we. But that didn’t prevent Marshall Lewy’s California Solo from feeling perilously commonplace at times, with circumstances conspiring first to plunge Robert Carlyle’s former Madchester scenester into a booze-fuelled mid-life crisis, and then to furnish him with ready-made paths to both familial and romantic redemption.

And yet, despite Lewy’s flirtations with hackneyed, heartwarming conventions, the sophomore writer-director ultimately refuses to let his protagonist off lightly, compelling him to reckon with the painful consequences of his past mistakes. Lewy deserves unequivocal credit, however, for having the good sense to cast Carlyle, who, like his character Lachlan, has kept something of a low-profile since rising to late-’90s stardom across the pond. As Lachlan battles against repatriation, Carlyle’s fine turn makes a convincing case that he should grace our screens with far greater regularity.