Solitary Man


Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31

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Critic Reviews

  1. 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.
  2. 90
    A sharp, small-scale comedy of male misbehavior that turns out to be one of this dreary spring’s pleasant cinematic surprises.
  3. It's Douglas' movie - and you've got a fine movie.
  4. 88
    Douglas plays Ben as charismatic, he plays him shameless, he plays him as brave, and very gradually, he learns to play him as himself. That's the only role left.
  5. It’s smoothly written and smartly paced, and Michael Douglas is riveting.
  6. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    A movie of no small generosity: It offers audiences the pleasures of a screenplay whose every acerbic line is firmly rooted in character, and it hands Michael Douglas one of his best roles in years.
  7. 80
    A truly impressive portrait of self-destructive, smooth-talking alpha males, and a testament to an actor who waltzes across that Peter Pan–syndrome tightrope with the greatest of sleaze.
  8. 80
    Solitary Man is funny and absorbing, and it features a lead performance by Michael Douglas that's both hugely entertaining in itself, and fascinating for the way it illuminates the actor's long, colorful career.
  9. 75
    Solitary Man comes on the heels of last year's "A Serious Man" and "A Single Man," so it's small wonder that confusion reigns. But this film, co-directed by David Levien and Brian Koppelman (who also wrote the screenplay), is the best of the three.
  10. 75
    The second movie nestled within Solitary Man--the one that doesn’t show up often enough--is about a man of rare eloquence and honesty, sharing his views on salesmanship and sex with anyone who’ll listen.
  11. 75
    Douglas never makes a false move, delivering a tour de force in human weakness.
  12. 75
    Superb as an auto salesman who sinks deeper and deeper into disgrace in Solitary Man, Douglas' juiciest vehicle since "Wonder Boys."
  13. Still, it's a pleasant surprise about an unpleasant guy brought to life by an ingratiating paradox, a movie star who has turned into a wily character man.
  14. What joy it is to watch the man (Douglas) slime himself on camera.
  15. 75
    Solitary Man gives Douglas a chance to act, not merely posture or show off for the camera. It's some of the finest, least forced work he has done in years.
  16. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Too shapeless and cursorily plotted to fully work as a story, but Koppelman and his co-director, David Levien, generously surround the hero with reliable actors doing solid work; if you can get past the catastrophe of Ben’s behavior, the film’s a genuine pleasure.
  17. Solitary Man is a wafer-thin film with a river-deep, mountain-high performance from Douglas.
  18. Perhaps best appreciated as a character study -- about a character some moviegoers might prefer to avoid. Still, it's a smart, funny film that flirts with the edge.
  19. Solitary Man makes too good on its title – it’s a fascinating character study isolated within a mediocre film.
  20. The film courageously shows its reprobate hero sliding further, not redeeming himself.
  21. 70
    David Levien codirected; the fine supporting cast includes Richard Schiff, Jesse Eisenberg, and Danny DeVito.
  22. For the literal-minded, there’s an added bonus: Johnny Cash singing Solitary Man over the opening credits.
  23. 67
    In trying to make Kalmen's story unique, the film inadvertently exposes him as the most typical sufferer of midlife crises you could imagine.
  24. 65
    As a character study Solitary Man, like Ben, has no center. What he amounts to is a pretty consistent set of attitudes and behaviors which, while shocking, are not all that interesting.
  25. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    The best scenes in Solitary Man find Douglas at his most charming, dispensing nuggets of wisdom to whomever will listen. His may not be an altogether honorable life, but it's a life in full.
  26. Michael Douglas in Solitary Man, has all the tools of the man who plays him at his disposal. At times in this often engaging, occasionally meandering movie, that's enough to score.
  27. This attractive cast may help get an audience, but they will surely puzzle over such a downward-spiraling story that lacks inner logic.
  28. 50
    The makers of “Wonder Boys,” Douglas’s finest hour, did more to maintain their distance, and their patience, and Solitary Man feels a touch small and sour by comparison. That said, its litany of character studies is more engaging than most of what you will see this summer.
  29. The film's real shocker is its unpleasantness.
  30. 40
    Notwithstanding Steven Soderbergh's name among the nine credited producers, this is strictly mid-level assembly line product, designed to ride entirely on the modest marquee value of second-tier or past-prime stars.
  31. The actors are all charged up, too; there’s just nowhere in this script for them to go.
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 8
  2. Negative: 3 out of 8
  1. Oct 21, 2010
    To say this movie sucks gives it more weight than it's worth. The script is well-matched to the direction because both are done equallyTo say this movie sucks gives it more weight than it's worth. The script is well-matched to the direction because both are done equally poorly. The only reason I watched it was because liked it, but then it turns out that Matt Zoller Seitz reviewed it, and Salon should fire him. The movie had only one surprise for me - that I made it to the end without walking out. Full Review »
  2. Sep 19, 2010
    Michael Douglas fans will enjoy his flawless performance as disgraced businessman Ben Kalmen in the darkly funny Solitary Man.

    Hailed as
    Michael Douglas fans will enjoy his flawless performance as disgraced businessman Ben Kalmen in the darkly funny Solitary Man.

    Hailed as giving his best performance since Wonder Boys and Wall Street, Douglas plays an unlikeable but irresistible car salesman facing a mid-life crisis. His doctor worries about Kalmen's EKG, and orders further tests. Kalmen flees reality as he schmoozes, drinks and parties his way to near-oblivion. We meet him again six years later.

    Kalmen is determined to do all the things he ever wanted to do in life, he tells his loyal ex-wife Susan Sarandon. For him this means cheating, lying, and even enjoying a one-night stand with the daughter (Imogen Poots) of his current girlfriend (Mary-Louise Parker).

    Douglas brings much depth and charisma to his character Kalmen. Along his downward spiral he seeks to mentor a nerdy college student (Jesse Eisenberg), and reunites with an old buddy (Danny DeVito), who exudes wit and wisdom as he operates a diner. Yet Kalmen's continued bad choices alienate almost everyone around him.

    Solitary Man not only shows the personal costs of the ego run amuck in Kalmen's sex addiction, but the human side of a detestable man. Jailed for his business transgressions at the height of his fame as "New York's Honest Car Dealer," Kalmen begs with panache from his daughter (Jenna Fischer) and ex-wife.

    David Levien and Brian Koppelman (who wrote and directed Knockaround Guys and The Girlfriend Experience) direct this showcase for Douglas with the help of an excellent cast. Koppelman also wrote Solitary Man's intelligent script.

    Finally Sarandon and DeVito are the characters who genuinely understand and seek to help Ben. In his own twisty mind, Kalmen believes he is helping himself.

    Douglas will reprise his role as Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010).
    Full Review »
  3. Jun 16, 2011
    The movie is good, but you stay with wanting more, is too short. The best perfomance of Michael Douglas in years contribuites to save theThe movie is good, but you stay with wanting more, is too short. The best perfomance of Michael Douglas in years contribuites to save the movie, that fails in the poor script and discrete direction. Full Review »