Impressively Artistic But A Little Too Predictable
Much like the title to Netflix’s latest Spanish thriller, Solo (Alone) can be interpreted on multiple levels. In a bid to make this Spanish film as artistic as possible, Solo is chock full of symbology and beautiful camera work. Unfortunately, despite being based on a true story the film feels a little light with its survival elements, lacking the drama needed to make it the sort of movie mainstream audiences will flock to. Unlike fellow genre films 127 hours, Jungle and Castaway, Solo lacks the bite needed to make it a more dramatic and thrilling ride. Still, from a purely artistic and thought provoking viewpoint, Solo has a lot going on that’s worth exploring.
The story opens with a beautiful sweeping shot of one of the Canary Islands. Alone and with no signs of civilization, a solitary surfer hangs off the edge of a cliff face, screaming for help. It’s at this point where we’re introduced to our first of many time skips between past and present, as we see the events leading up to this fateful moment on the cliff edge. Álvaro Vizcaíno Albertos wakes up in his jeep after drinking too much the night before and sets off to go surfing and clear his head from the demons plaguing him. Those demons being pride and jealousy. While learning more of his back story and what led him to his hungover state in the jeep, in present time we see the events leading up to his tumble off the cliff and the consequent result of Álvaro breaking his hip and injuring himself badly. With no food and water and struggling to survive for 48 hours, the rest of the films sees this surfer battling against the odds to try and survive this unimaginable situation.
On a deeper level, Solo is a profoundly artistic film and one that holds multiple layers of symbology and thematic relevance to the plot. Seagulls crop up throughout the film and are even referenced during one of the many hallucinations Álvaro experiences. For those not aware, seagulls symbolize freedom and being fearless in speaking our minds. Both of which being things Álvaro desperately needs to overcome in his life in order to survive. There are also multiple shots of the sea here with varying degrees of submerged shots; this being directly linked to one’s emotional well-being which Solo captures perfectly throughout its 90 minute run time. It’s just a shame then that the film lacks the necessary drama and tension needed to make this a more memorable Spanish film.
For the most part, Solo is a relatively straight forward film. This is a film about redemption and survival which Alain Hernández captures really well here, given his seclusion for most of the story. Although the film has a good pacing to it, it’s a pity that the plot feels a little too familiar and predictable. Aside from the artistic elements, Solo doesn’t have an awful lot going for it, making it a difficult film to recommend with such heavy hitters in this genre to compete with. Fans of survival films should absolutely check this out and there are some really nicely shot scenes here that help but those expecting the next Castaway are likely to leave disappointed. Gorgeously shot and thematically sound, Solo feels like more of an arthouse film than it perhaps should, making it an enjoyable but ultimately underwhelming film.