Solitary Man (film)

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Solitary Man
Solitary man poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian Koppelman
David Levien
Produced byMoshi Diamont
Danny Dimbort
Joe Gatta
Jared Ian Goldman
Steven Soderbergh
Written byBrian Koppelman
StarringMichael Douglas
Jenna Fischer
Jesse Eisenberg
Mary-Louise Parker
Imogen Poots
Susan Sarandon
Danny DeVito
Music byMichael Penn
CinematographyAlwin H. Küchler
Edited byTricia Cooke
Distributed byMillennium Films
Smartest Man Productions
Release date
  • September 2009 (2009-09) (TIFF)
  • May 7, 2010 (2010-05-07) (United States)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$5.68 million[1]

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 received generally positive reviews but was a box office bomb grossing just $5.68 million against its $15 million budget.


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 never got the prescribed heart tests, and his lost sense of "immortality" has sent him on a self-destructive binge: habitual lying, inappropriate sexual affairs, divorce, and bad business decisions that nearly 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 Allyson (Imogen Poots), the 18-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, Jordan Karsch (Mary-Louise Parker), to her college interview at a Boston college campus where Ben is an alumnus, having been a prominent donor during his more prosperous days. On campus, Ben meets an impressionable student named Daniel (Jesse Eisenberg) who appreciates his wisdom and advice. Later that night, Ben and Allyson sleep together.

Back in New York, Ben expresses a desire to continue the relationship, which Allyson dismisses as a one time experiment with an older man, in her words, crossing "the Daddy" fantasy off her "list". Frustrated with Ben and her own mother, Allyson dismissively tells her mother about the sexual encounter. Jordan is incensed and breaks off contact with Ben. She then withdraws the support Ben needs to open a new auto dealership. While discussing his overdue rent with his building manager (Lenny Venito), his daughter Susan appears and tells him he is no longer welcome in her family's life. She tells him that this is because of his inconsistency and unreliability as the grandfather of her son and after discovering another inappropriate affair Ben had with her friend.

Facing eviction, Ben asks his college friend Jimmy Marino (Danny DeVito) to give him a job at his campus diner. Allyson, now a student, discovers Ben working near her. Ben receives a call from Jordan demanding he leave town immediately and threatening if he does not that she will have Allyson's father's connections persuade him to do so with physical force. At a college party cruising, Ben recognizes a customer from the diner then 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) sent by Jordan who heads up Allyson's father's security team.

After discussing his view of life with Jimmy, Ben collapses and wakes up in a hospital with Susan at his bedside. Ben then leaves the hospital against medical advice. He apologizes to Daniel for his indiscretion and discovers Nancy on the bench where they met. Nancy has learned of Ben's medical condition and appears to struggle with the fact that his illness has caused the pattern of self-destructive behavior in his strange behavior. Ben tells Nancy that aging and the prospect of dying caused him 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 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. The film ends with Ben standing and looking into the camera.



"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 has 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 $5,682,073.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Solitary Man (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  2. ^ Solitary Man on IMDb
  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]