An old Senegalese proverb says, “An elder who dies is like a library that burns.” This belief is at the heart of the small but moving independent film Goodbye Solo, directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani. It’s also the conviction that drives the main character, Solo (Souléymane Sy Savané), an upbeat Senegalese immigrant to the U.S.
While driving a cab in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Solo encounters the grim William (Red West), a 70-year-old who is losing his grip on life. After a late-night ride home, William makes a proposition. In two weeks he wants the young cabbie to drive him up to Blowing Rock, a mountain ledge outside of Winston-Salem, and leave him there. It seems clear that William means to end it all. Solo makes it his mission to convince the old man that his life still has meaning.