Thursday, February 21, 2013

"California Solo": a legal immigrant faces deportation after some foolish behavior -- but do "I" care?

They tell adult students of “Screenwriting 101” that you have to hook the audience with a “3D” character presented with an urgent challenge, right at the outset.  The new Sundance 2012 film  “California Solo”, by Marshall Lewy, does these things, almost too literally.  I had trouble empathizing with the character or accepting his behavior at all.
Laclan MacAldonich (Robert Carlyle), a former and fallen British rocker and pop-star and now middle aged, lives on a green card, working erratically on an organic food farm in the near California valley.  As the film starts, he gets stopped for drunk driving.  That precipitates efforts by ICE and Immigration to deport him back to Britain even though he has a legal green card. 
The scenes, in the middle of the film, that depict immigration law and the workarounds attempted by immigration lawyers are indeed quite instructive and interesting.
Laclan is told that he can stay in the US if he can demonstrate that someone in great need is dependent on him. So he tries to recruit an aging actress (Alexia Rasmussen) into his efforts.  Of course, she is put off by the dishonesty, but there is a daughter and perhaps a final family secret.

The director says that he is concerned that US immigration policy can indeed nab long time employed and legal US residents if they make slight slips, and somebody with an agenda notices. 
I received a screener from Strand, and the film will be available on DVD March 5.  It opened in NY and LA on November 30.  The official site is here.
I don’ t recall seeing this film play in the DC area.

Second picture, mine (May 2012), near Palm Springs, near location of film. 

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