Solitary Man | EW.com

Movies

Solitary Man

Michael Douglas gives one of the best performances of his career

Michael Douglas, Solitary Man | COLLEGE DAZE Michael Douglas and Jesse Eisenberg can't believe their eyes in Solitary Man

COLLEGE DAZE Michael Douglas and Jesse Eisenberg can't believe their eyes in Solitary Man (Phil Caruso)

In contrast to the emotional inertia of the character he plays, a former big-wheel car dealer gunning toward self-destruction as he nears 60, Michael Douglas surges ahead in Solitary Man with the best work he’s done in the decade since Wonder Boys. Douglas portrays Ben Kalmen, a New York player gone to seed and divorced from a good, mature woman (Susan Sarandon, equally revitalized). He’s squandering the love of his adult daughter (Jenna Fischer, superb). And he’s compulsively chasing inappropriate women — some as young as the college-age daughter (Imogen Poots) of his girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker).

With an outstanding screenplay by Brian Koppelman and disciplined direction by Koppelman and David Levien, a story that could have been generic (or worse, scented with flowery bulls—) turns into a precise, honest, and affecting drama. And recognizing the gift of such a character, Douglas does Ben Kalmen the honor of playing him exactly as he lies. A-