December 31, 2018 Solis (Movie Review)
One day, space travel and working in space will be commonplace. No one will even bat an eye when a person tells that space is their workplace. Still, it is such a vast emptiness filled with terrifying obstacles that if the worst case scenario occurs, help is not close by to quickly diffuse the situation. When time is of the essence, how can a person stay calm and alert, hoping that the disembodied voice over the communications is really coming to the rescue? These thoughts in mind, out comes the new film Solis, a thrilling journey into the dangerous depths of space.
Available in the UK market for Digital Download as of December 10, 2018, thanks to The Movie Partnership, and the US market digitally and on DVD December 11th, thanks to Blue Fox Entertainment LLC, Solis is the debut feature film from Writer and Director Carl Strathie. An exciting time for the aspiring filmmaker, he brought in Canadian Actor Steven Ogg, famously known for his roles in AMC’s The Walking Dead and HBO’s Westworld, to play the lead role of Troy Holloway, an engineering technician on an asteroid site. Unfortunately, catastrophe happens when the crew attempts to leave the site. An explosion has not only severely damaged their pod and taken it off course, but it has also killed all of the crew except for Troy. He is injured and soon realizes he does not have any control over the pod. He desperately tries to reach out to anyone who will hear his distress call. The pod is flying blind and there is limited power. Troy’s situation seems as though it could not get any worse.
Thankfully, he is finally in touch with a Commander Roberts (Alice Lowe: Hot Fuzz 2007, Sightseers 2012). She is someone that he does not know and demands to speak to someone he does. Troy is angry and quite rude to Roberts. She remains firm and insists that he will speak to her an no one else. The pod is on a course to the sun. Without Robert’s help Troy does not stand a chance. All he has to hold onto are her strong and soothing words and the reassurance that she is on her way to save him.
Oxygen levels continue to deplete. The closer to the sun Troy gets the more his life is in danger of being burned out. Can he quell his anger and frustration long enough to do what he needs in order to survive? Can a voice belonging to a faceless person really motivate him enough to even want to be saved? Roberts is coming to rescue him, is she not?
One of the most difficult jobs an actor has is to allow the viewer to believe the lines written in the script. They are under pressure to make the words come alive onscreen by making the viewer know that they are actually the character they are meant to be. It is a combination of style, interaction with the other actors on screen, and the legitimacy of the setting. Often times, the those that are thought to be the best at the craft fall apart when they are onscreen alone.
All this in mind, Solis is a film that only really employs two actors. The weight of the entire project could have fallen apart had the wrong casting been chosen. It is a credit to the filmmakers that casting was perfect. Ogg’s Troy reacts how any sane person would if they were hurling alone toward the sun. Never once does he falter so the viewer does not get a chance to become disinterested in just seeing him onscreen. The range of emotions transmits to the viewer allowing them to feel the anger for the situation, fear of what he cannot control, and the sadness of everything. It is a testament to Ogg’s talent that he is able to carry a film so flawlessly as the only physical actor onscreen.
If Ogg’s solo onscreen performance was not a difficult enough feat to accomplish, consider that the entirety of Lowe’s existence is entirely off-screen. She must project authority and empathy simply by using her voice. Troy and the viewer are forced to imagine what she looks like and what she is doing as she is speaking to him. There is no frame of reference. Lowe had to perfect her role in a way that the viewer could trust and believe in her strength and fight to keep Troy alive. Her performance, just as Ogg’s, was flawless.
There are moments in the film, such as when Roberts begs him to, “let me save you” that the viewer’s heart is squarely with her and not with Troy. The cracking in her voice bleeds desperation through the strength she displays. Troy’s life is not just about himself it is important that she keep him alive as well. The two connect in such an intimate way and yet neither are ever seen to met on screen. Lowe’s disembodied voice carries the heaviest burden in the film and she does so with exquisite skill.
Solis is a film about intimacy. Troy and Roberts do not know each other. They have never met. In the worst case scenario, Troy must rely on a complete stranger to survive. Naturally he is combative and angry. He is sitting next to a coworker’s charred body headed to his own doom. The voice on the comm could tell him anything. There is no trust to start off with. It is almost a pissing match at times with Troy and Roberts back and forth each trying to prove their dominance. Throughout this, though, the two are able to understand the other in a way that had they met under any other circumstance they could not. The viewer is treated to a twistingly organic way a couple of strangers could suddenly become so close in such a short and stressful time. It is a beautiful study of how honest conversation can bind people in the deepest of ways.
A pod with a single occupant hurling haphazardly towards the sun could be played several different ways. It will always be exciting and thrilling, but from there it could become campy or empty. Thankfully Solis takes the deeper path and creates a world of introspection during impossible circumstances. Both Ogg and Lowe allow for a film that is emotionally thrilling and heart pumping exciting. It is for these reasons that Cryptic Rock give Solis 4.5 out of 5 stars.