Loosely based on the brilliant 1997 Iranian film The Taste of Cherry, this is my favorite Ramin Bahrani film thus far. In fact, I think each of his films is better than the previous one. I didn't care much for his first film Man Push Cart. Chop Shop, his second one, had its moments but overall I wanted a bit more. This one is good from beginning to end.
A Senegalese cabdriver (played flawlessly by a nonprofessional actor) in Winston Salem, NC picks up an elderly white man. Within a few minutes, it is established that the older man wants the cabdriver to drive him to the top of a mountain in a couple of weeks so he can commit suicide. The cabdriver will be compensated well for the drive.
The driver decides to try to change the man's mind and befriends the man over the coming days. Like all of Bahrani's films, the cinematography is gorgeous. But this one is much better than his other two films because he's simply telling the story of the characters involved rather than trying to make larger points about society. And within the story of Solo (the driver) and the old man, Bahrani finds something a hell of a lot more universal than he did in his other two films. His other two films felt a lot more heavyhanded to me.
The movie isn't perfect. But it is a definite step in the right direction for a filmmaker whose films have interested me but have also frustrated me in the past. Maybe he just needed to get out of NYC to make a good movie.
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
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