Solitary Man (film)

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Solitary Man
Solitary man poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Koppelman
David Levien
Produced by Moshi Diamont
Danny Dimbort
Joe Gatta
Steven Soderbergh
Written by Brian Koppelman
Starring Michael Douglas
Jenna Fischer
Jesse Eisenberg
Mary-Louise Parker
Imogen Poots
Susan Sarandon
Danny DeVito
Music by Michael Penn
Cinematography Alwin H. Kuchler
Edited by Tricia Cooke
Distributed by Millennium Films
Smartest Man Productions
Release dates
  • September 2009 (2009-09) (TIFF)
  • May 7, 2010 (2010-05-07) (United States)
Running time 90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1]
Box office $5,024,782

Solitary Man is a 2009 American film co-directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien. The film stars Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, Mary-Louise Parker and Danny DeVito.[2]


The film opens with 54 year-old Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas), an attractive and very successful car dealer in the New York area, at his annual medical check-up; his doctor tells him he needs a CAT scan to get a better look at his heart, due to an 'irregularity' in his EKG.

About six years later, Ben's fortunes have drastically changed. He is taking oral medications, but he never got the prescribed heart tests, and his lost sense of 'immortality' sent him off on a self-destructive binge: habitual lying, sexual affairs, divorce, and bad business decisions that almost put him in prison. He is broke, borrowing money from his daughter Susan (Jenna Fischer), and still unwilling to accept his age, ignoring his heart problem, and has a serial sexual appetite.

Ben, who cheated often on his wife Nancy Kalmen (Susan Sarandon), accompanies the 18-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, Jordan Karsch (Mary-Louise Parker), to her college interview. Ben is an alumnus of the university and was even a building donor during his more prosperous days.

Ben meets an impressionable student named Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg) on campus who appreciates his wisdom and advice. Ben talks himself into bed with Jordan's daughter, Allyson (Imogen Poots). He expresses desire to continue the relationship, which Allyson dismisses as a one time experiment with an older man, and crossing 'the Daddy' fantasy experience off her 'list'. Frustrated with Ben, Allyson flippantly tells her mother about the sexual encounter. Jordan breaks off contact with Ben and withdraws the support Ben needs to open a new auto dealership. While discussing his past due rent with his building manager (Lenny Venito), his daughter Susan appears and tells him he is no longer welcome in her family's life because of his inconsistency and unreliability as grandfather of her son, after discovering an affair Ben has had with the mother of one of her son's friends.

Facing eviction, Ben asks his college friend Jimmy Marino (Danny DeVito) to give him a job at his diner on campus. Allyson is upset to find Ben working near her college campus and informs her mother. He receives a call from Jordan, demanding that he move out of college town immediately. If he does not, Jordan tells Ben, she will have her ex-husband's contacts physically persuade him to do so.

At a college party cruising, after hitting on one girl he recognizes as a customer from the diner to no success, and unable to help himself, Ben makes a sexual advance toward Daniel's new girlfriend, Maureen (Olivia Thirlby). Shortly after the girl rebuffs him, he is severely beaten by an ex-police officer (Arthur J. Nascarella) whom Jordan's ex-husband sent to the campus.

After discussing his view of life with Jimmy, he collapses and is put in hospital. After a few days recovering, Susan checks on him to his surprise and happiness at their 'reconciliation'. But he leaves the hospital against advice. He seeks out and apologizes to Daniel for his indiscretion. He then finds Nancy on the bench where they met. She has found out about his medical condition. He tells her why he went 'off the rails': aging, and the prospect of dying, made him start to feel 'invisible', so he decided to plunge into life with full gusto. She tells him that's no excuse, but she understands and offers to give him a ride back to New York City. The film ends with Nancy waiting in the car for his decision and a young woman walking by Ben, still sitting on the bench, in the opposite direction. Ben looks one way at Nancy, then the other way at the woman. He stands, and looks into the camera. Which way he should he go?



"Here is one of Michael Douglas' finest performances", wrote Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and called it "a smart, effective film."[3] The film currently[when?] holds a "Fresh" rating of 81% at the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, and an average rating of 6.9, based on 94 reviews. The critical consensus states that "Built around a singularly unpleasant main character, Solitary Man needed a flawless central performance to succeed -- and Michael Douglas delivers." [4]

Box office[edit]

Solitary Man has grossed $4,360,548 at the domestic box office and a worldwide total of $5,024,782.[1]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Solitary Man at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Roger Ebert (June 9, 2010). "Solitary Man". Chicago Sun-Times. "Here is one of Michael Douglas' finest performances. Because the other characters, no matter what they think, never truly engage Ben Kalman, he's on that stage by himself. Everyone else is in the audience. 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." 
  4. ^ Solitary Man at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]