After thirty years of working for an underworld consortium Jack Barrett (Colin Friels) has had enough of killing for a living. Now at 53, Barrett is tired of the sordid life and tired of jumping to attention every time his boss Reno (Linal Haft) gives him yet another commission. He regularly visits the prostitute, Kate (Angie Milliken), who seems to have a soft spot for him, while he dreams of a simple life in a small fishing village, but in order to get out of the business, there is one final job to do. Sounds simple, but then Billie Finn (Bojana Novakovic) comes along, a 19 year old university student doing her thesis on the fallout from the Commission on Organised crime... and Barrett is a key source.
Review by Louise Keller:
An assured genre film from an exciting new filmmaker, Solo looks at life from the point of view of a hit man whose conscience has caught up with him. The first winner of the Project Greenlight Australia scriptwriting initiative, writer/director Morgan O'Neill was given a production budget of a million dollars to make his film. The result is impressive from all angles. Good storytelling, well constructed characters and an outstanding performance by Colin Friels take us into the complex world of Jack Barrett. Mood takes priority over action, and the jazzy score that conveys Barrett's internal world is a tangible and alluring character.
It's not a mid-life crisis, is it? asks the seedy gun shop owner, when Colin Friel's Jack Barrett dumps guns of-all-sorts on his counter to sell. But Barrett's repulsion for the life he is leading as a hit man is a crisis of larger proportions. The daily grind of discarding bloodied body parts into the harbour has now become unbearable and he takes solace by gazing at the photo of the idyllic fishing spot of Bateman's Bay on the back of his car's sun visor. And then he meets idealistic and persistent Billie Finn (Bojana Novakovic). Novakovic (winner, 2004 AFI Best Actress Award for Marking Time), is fresh and delightful. The relationship between Barrett and Billie is a compelling contrast of cynical and fresh. British actor Linal Haft delivers a fine turn as smarmy thug Reno and Angie Milliken injects a world-weary acceptance of her lot as the prostitute, Kate. Bruce Spence as gunshop owner, Vince Colosimo as corrupt cop and Chris Haywood as underworld king pin Arkan hit the mark in smaller roles.
O'Neill takes us skilfully into Barrett's psyche. His reality is matter of fact; his dreams describe the man and reveal his heart and soul. There is no sentimentality in the way O'Neill has created the characters, yet Friels makes us like Jack. Better still, he allows us to understand him. Excellent production design and cinematography complement the haunting music score. The ending comes abruptly and may fall short of some expectations, despite the immensely satisfying journey. It's an involving and complex film that leaves an indelible mark.
There is a commentary by Morgan Freeman on the DVD, together with cast and crew interviews, B-roll footage and theatrical trailer.
Published April 12, 2007
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SOLO: DVD (MA)
CAST: Colin Friels, Bojana Novakovic, Angie Milliken, Vince Colosimo Linal Haft, Bruce Spence, Chris Haywood, Tony Barry
PRODUCER: Sue Seeary
DIRECTOR: Morgan O'Neill
SCRIPT: Morgan O'Neill
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hugh Miller
EDITOR: Marcus D'Arcy
MUSIC: Martyn Love, Damian Deboos-Smith
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Murray Picknett
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 6, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director Morgan O'Neill, cast and crew interviews, B-roll footage, theatrical trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: April 4, 2007