Creator: David Weil
Cast: Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Anthony Mackie, Dan Stevens, Uzo Aduba, Hellen Mirren, Constance Wu, Nicole Beharie
In our fast paced lives, there are things we always take for granted. For example, how during the pandemic a lot of us have been able to communicate with our loved ones through video calls. Or how so many of us have the privilege of not stepping out of our homes due to different delivery services. But a lot of these technological advancements did not exist five years ago, and the things we were taking for granted then included breathing, meeting our friends and physical contact with our loved ones.
The new Amazon Prime anthology series Solos, which stars the likes of Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Anne Hathaway and Anthony Mackie, tells us seven different Sci-fi stories about people navigating life in the face of cutting-edge technology. The seven episodes are titled according to the names of the protagonist, so the first episode is ‘Leah,’ the second ‘Tom’ and so on. The first story we see is of a woman trying to solve time travel. She is disheveled and almost on the verge of giving up, until she meets her past self. In another episode we see a man come face-to-face with his ‘twin’ , a robot designed to look and act exactly like him. In another, we see an old woman in a space shuttle, who participated in an experiment to beat her loneliness.
Science and technology might drive these stories forward but human emotions sustain them. Yes, watching a woman try to solve time travel is interesting but it actually hits home when you understand why. Watching another woman live her life in isolation in her dream home is fascinating but it actually hurts you to watch why she can’t step out of her home even if she wants to. When you watch the old lady recount her lonely life, you want to reach out to her. When an old man with alzheimers seemingly gets his memories back, you wish that could actually happen in real life. Human emotions override technological advancements in this anthology.
Every story in Solos is written so smartly that you never see what is coming. And when it ends you find yourself saying, ‘yes, that makes sense.’ There are also visual clues sprinkled across the show and once you catch them, it makes the experience even better. Solos is a show that makes you gasp and cry at the same time. It gets pretty triggering in some parts.
The anthology is also heavily dependent on one or mostly two actors per eisode. They are either playing double roles, or interacting with a voice simulation, or even reciting a monologue. It is the responsibility of that actor to carry the entire episode on their back. All of these actors do their jobs wonderfully. We don’t realise how the show is so minimalistic and all of these stories happen in a single location.
Constance Wu, especially, does an amazing job telling the story of the worst day of her life. That episode will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Another actor who might get lost in the big names but deserves so much appreciation is Uzo Aduba, who plays Sasha, a woman who cannot get out of her isolation, 20 years after the pandemic is over. This episode is quite triggering, given we are in the middle of Covid second wave. But the episode aptly describes the traumatic impact of prolonged isolation.
Solos benefits greatly from the talented actors cast in the show. But it also relies heavily on the expertise of the filmmakers who weave it all together. Hunters fame David Weil has created the show and directed three episodes. The other filmmakers who brought their skill to the project include Tiffany Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and Zach Braff. It’s an easy assimilation of a lot of diverse ideas and talents, and hence it works so well.
I haven’t called a show a must-watch in a long time. I’m happy to be breaking that streak with Solos.