18th Nov2020

‘Solitary’ Review

by Chris Thomas

Stars: Johnny Sachon, Lottie Tolhurst, Michael Condron, Brian Bovell, Michael Absalom, Andrew Mike Doyle | Written and Directed by Luke Armstrong

The year is 2044, there is a lot more people on the planet and they are running out of stuff… in this ambitious, sci-fi action film; which IMDB estimates it cost 10,000 pounds to make. I cannot help but appreciate the aspiration of writer, and director, Luke Armstrong. One of the most ambitious effects in Solitary, is the comb over on our heroes’ head. Issac Havelock, the name of our follically challenged hero is a superb sci-fi meta joke. As is calling the computer “Eva.”

Issac wakes up in a capsule, with a lady. Both seem to have committed serious crimes and they are floating in space above the earth. Suddenly there is an explosion, and some level of confusion.

What follows is a slow burn, mystery whodunnit as our “Adam and Eve” (and Eva) talk to our suspicious sounding ground controller and unravel the mystery of exactly why they are in space and precisely is going on. I have seen it, and I am not entirely sure why the film is called “solitary” when there are, at all times, 2 of them. Without giving away spoilers. There are things about the plot that did not quite make sense to me (beyond the title, which is a head scratcher).

Solitary is very clearly a sci-fi film made by a sci-fi fan. Whether it is the plot, the character names, the camera work, or the way the film is lit, Luke Armstrong loves sci-fi. The opening shots of a sci-fi London are very well done, and the film is made with a level of craft and interest in the genre that is nice to see. It is not just me that loves films. One thing that was underdeveloped, was the sense that earth looms large out the window, and yet is so out of reach.

Solitary isn’t as good as Moon or Sunshine but perhaps it is unfair to compare it to those, excellent, high production efforts. it is a competently made little thriller that, like a lot of sci-fi is character driven, rather than being “about spaceships”. It is a bit like accusing Pride and Prejudice of being “about period costumes.”

If Solitary really did cost £10,000 then it puts an awful lot of filmmakers, with a lot more money, to shame. Luke Armstrong has shot for the moon, and he has definitely landed, albeit he might have shattered an ankle on landing.

Solitary is available on VOD and DVD now.

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