The critically acclaimed Goodbye Solo arrives on DVD

Just out on DVD, Goodbye Solo, the new film from Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop) opens with an awkward scene in which William (Red West), a surly white Southerner, tries to pay a Senegalese cabbie named Solo (Souleymane Sy Savane) an exorbitant fare in order to act as his driver and eventually drop him off at a mountaintop outside the Winston-Salem area on a designated date. It’s a fitting intro for a film by Bahrani, who’s made a name for himself with his true-to-life style that exploits life’s grim realities. Roger Ebert has called Bahrani "the new great American director," and the guy certainly captures contemporary race relations in a way in which few other American filmmakers have. So despite their different ethnicities and a clear generation gap, Solo and William end up as friends of sorts in this the film, though Solo’s the far more sympathetic character. While slow-moving at times, the film's gotten nothing but rave reviews and had a good run here earlier this year at the Cedar Lee Theatre. The DVD version includes audio commentary by Bahrani, who talks extensively about everything from the opening scene, which begins in the middle of things with a car ride scene filmed in one direct shot, to the places around his Winston-Salem hometown where he chose to shoot the movie. The extra audio track is a nice add-on as Bahrani talks about his direction and his interest in letting everyone but the main two actors go off script for their roles. ** 1/2