Starring: Gianfranco Boattini, James Foschi
Synopsis: A man escapes from the chaos of the city and climbs on a hill in search of solitude. By a solitary tree, he will find it – in person. The Solitude, an anachronistic, eccentric and tongue-in-cheek being affected by sudden melancholic crises concerning his neglected profession; the man, confused and determined to stay away from the routine and the hectic life of the city. The result is a grotesque, ironic conversation through which the angst – but also the comfortable sloth – of our times come to surface. At the mercy of the Solitude, the man is ready to leave his times to land in a place of “extreme solitude and eternal silence”. A sudden doubt, however, freezes him and lets him ask a thorny question.
Everybody is busy with everything, these days – I, for one, can attest to occasionally daydreaming about getting into my car and driving until I can get away from all of it. The protagonist (James Foschi) of Solitude on Demand does something of that sort, but he does so on foot, in search of solitude. And of course, the man encounters The Solitude (Gianfranco Boattini), who dons a dashing, flamboyant coat of red. From here, director Luca Zambianchi builds on the complex idea of what kind of “solitude” businessmen like the protagonist crave.
According to the film’s production notes, Solitude on Demand was built with only a $200 postproduction budget – and unfortunately, this lack of funds shows in certain aspects. However, setting aside the occasional shaky frame, what Zambianchi has done on his budget is quite impressive. The addition of sound effects is done expertly and the use of natural lighting on the field makes for an aesthetic film. The acting duo is undoubtedly talented, with Boattini electrically taking the spotlight in his metaphorical role.
There’s really only one thing standing in the way of Solitude on Demand’s total triumph: the ending. Zambianchi spends the majority of the film exploring the complex idea of solitude as a person, throwing in the occasional joke here and there. The audience is given the sense that they are being led to a revelation – a revelation about solitude – but this “revelation” is nothing of the sort, it’s just a letdown. The “solitude” that Zambianchi presents is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, it’s simply a boring statement that everyone has already heard time and time again.
Despite the lackluster ending to the film, Solitude on Demand is enjoyable until about the last minute. The dialogue between the two characters flows easily, and is very amusing to watch. Boattini delivers his character’s philosophical musings with plenty of delightful flourishes, but he (thankfully) doesn’t allow himself to get caught up by the insights and has fun with the role. Overall, Solitude on Demand clearly showcases a talented cast and crew, but it is sadly bogged down by the turn of events.