Movie Review: ‘Solace’ at the 2018 Los Angeles Film Festival

Sole, played by Hope Olaide Wilson, finds herself untethered from the life she knows after her father’s death. She is subsequently unable to fulfill her dream of going to Africa with her mentor, Keynah, played by Jean Nadine, who has tied Sole to a world of academics and artist expression, the core of her adolescent existence. Sole becomes lost and unhinged in this coming of age tale where she watches everything she’s worked for vaporize in an instant. She’s now forced to leave the arts community where she has been nurtured and mentored by Keynah, who has been grooming Sole as an artist and political activist throughout her teen years.

At 17, Sole is whisked away from a substantial and meaningful life in New York City and replanted under her grandmother Irene’s care in the Ladera Heights section of Los Angeles. The move proves both stifling and regressive for Sole as she struggles to reorient herself to a life without context or meaning. Her new life in Ladera Heights doesn’t have any of the intellectual or aesthetic support or substance she needs to thrive and move forward in her life.

Irene’s character, played by Lynn Whitfield, is not a paragon of virtue, as she is involved in a secretive affair with the Pastor of her church, Pastor Clay Davis, played by Glynn Turman. She can’t relate to Sole given her upbringing and former lifestyle. Irene’s, and now Sole’s neighbors, Jasmine and Guedado, are a couple of partying young misfits. Irene openly shuns them and they act as a counter point to Irene’s controlling nature with their provocative openness. Sole will eventually be attracted to them due to their lack of the pretense and hypocrisy that she sees in Irene. Both Jasmine and Guedado act as foils to the restrictive and over protective nature of Irene’s parenting style. Their freedom appeals to Sole, who’s looking for connection, and she is soon sucked into their decadent club life drenched in alcohol, drugs and sex.

Sole attempts to engages the two in her aspirations to create art, which they are amenable to doing, but for all who are involved with the “party lifestyle” it’s hard to stay focused on goals and ambitions. Jasmine and Guedado’s party lifestyle, while is aesthetically thrilling, it acts as a vortex, draining Sole of her inspiration. It is debilitating force that Sole nearly succumbs to as she nearly looses her sense of self. There’s a whole montage of Sole’s experiences with Jasmine and Guedado that verges on the psychotic, both paranoid and delusional, leaving Sole essentially bankrupt of inspiration and yearning for clarity and stability.

Sole finds herself once again in the solitary silence of Irene’s home where she is able to regroup and reignite her purpose to live her destiny and to reunite with the core of her own beliefs and principles. “Solace” is a uniquely told coming-of-age story without clichés or assumptions. I found it to be a valuable and insightful watch.

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Billy Bennight

About Billy Bennight

Billy Bennight is a writer, photographer and wardrobe stylist with expertise and years of experience in these disciplines. His musical youth started as a Punk Rocker and has expanded into exploring many genres of music, with an keen interest in art, fashion, photography and writing. He shoots celebrity events and red carpets for The Photo Access and ZUMA Press. He is a member of the Los Angeles Art Association. His images have been published in The Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair. He's very engaged in life. You can follow him on his Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/billybennightartist and on Instagram and Twitter @billybennight
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