Like most anthologies, Amazon Prime Video’s tech-themed seven-episode collection, Solos, is a combined bag. Just like the present’s title suggests, every episode (largely) revolves round a single character and is about at a single location. At finest, they’re thought-provoking, extremely shifting, immersive methods to spend half an hour. At worst, they’re little greater than alternatives for A-list performers to flex their monologue muscle tissues. For each quick that skillfully makes use of the framework of a futuristic invention to delve deeper into human nature, there are others that aren’t completely satisfied of their very own level. The present has lofty Black Mirror aspirations, however doesn’t again it up with good Black Mirror writing.
You don’t have to look at the episodes chronologically, although Peg would profit from being seen straight after Tom as the 2 are associated, and Stuart is finest left until the tip because it weaves narrative strands from a number of previous episodes right into a concluding chapter. On condition that a number of episodes play out like one lengthy monologue, the present’s repetitive format make it arduous to binge watch. So in case you’re seeking to watch solely choose episodes, right here’s a useful rating of every Solos quick, from worst to finest:
Even Morgan Freeman doing the whip/nae nae can’t salvage this tepid quick about an Alzheimer’s-afflicted man who’s handed the expertise to retrieve his reminiscences. Makes an attempt to infuse the fabric with emotion fall flat, because of a very sentimental tone and a sluggish tempo that even a plot twist can’t enliven. Stuart is dialogue-heavy, with Freeman’s unhurried descriptions of movies, music, nature, folks and his previous experiences taking on most of its 31-minute-long runtime. It’s lots of discuss for an episode that doesn’t actually have a lot to say in any respect.
For these watching the collection chronologically, the alcohol-induced rambling confessional humour of Jenny serves as a counterpoint to the extra somber tone of earlier episodes Tom and Peg, but when the quick was aiming for endearing, it misses and lands at grating as an alternative. Constance Wu performs Jenny, a girl who breaks the fourth wall to drunkenly dish a couple of vary of matters together with, however not restricted to, her struggles with infertility, her scorching neighbour’s Adam’s apple and the way a lot Spider-Man can bench press. It doesn’t assist that her monologue has a stilted, writely high quality to it, like somebody studying out a novel, not reliving their very own experiences. “It’s arduous work to be interested by anyone when anyone is whittling on,” she says at one level. Onerous agree.
Peg takes place in a future so distant, TikTok is a relic of the previous. It follows Peg (Helen Mirren), a 71-year-old lady on a one-way area mission with nobody however the onboard AI to speak to. The conversations don’t movement fairly as organically as they do within the different shorts — the AI asks questions contrived to get Peg to speak about her most weak moments, which provides Mirren the possibility to ship a collection of monologues with a wavering voice and watery eyes. She’s endlessly watchable, particularly when the quick provides her the possibility to have enjoyable with the fabric, however the loneliness of area, as a setup for Peg to speak concerning the lonely life she’s lived, wears a bit skinny by the tip of the episode’s 31-minute runtime. Peg would work higher as a podcast. The digicam stays fastened on Mirren’s face and there’s not a lot visible selection, so shutting your eyes and envisioning the eventualities Mirren vividly describes would truly improve their affect.
Films concerning the horrors of childbirth, like Rosemary’s Child (2000) or Inside (2007), work as a result of they faucet into a girl’s primeval concern of being focused when she’s at her most weak. The eerily efficient Nera is a worthy addition to this canon. As Nera, Nicole Beharie performs a closely pregnant lady snowed in at an remoted cabin. The quick makes the neatest use of its area, relaying data by way of strategically positioned objects as an alternative of dialogue and snaking by way of the corridors of Nera’s residence to point out simply how alone she is. The tight 20-minute runtime helps preserve stress however minus factors for that ending, a tonal shift that appears like a little bit of a cop-out.
Uzo Aduba performs Sasha, a girl who’s spent the previous 20 years in peaceable quarantine till her smart-home software program updates and begins convincing her to depart. Sasha’s reluctance is relatable to anybody who’s spent the pandemic staying put — why enterprise exterior when you might retreat to the snug predictability of life indoors? The quick skates near letting its reel-real parallels weigh too closely on viewers, however the fluid camerawork and regularly unspooling central thriller hold it compelling. Aduba’s efficiency, alternating between scrappy don’t-mess-with-me-charm and panicked terror as she decides whether or not to belief a suspiciously benevolent AI over her personal thoughts, is a standout.
After we consider the folks we love, what can we consider first? How do we would like them to recollect us after we’re gone? Some of the shifting shorts in Solos, Tom can be one which makes use of the sci-fi ingredient sparingly, valuing quiet emotion over style gimmickry. Anthony Mackie performs each elements on this two-hander with nuance, and as his characters interact in an extended dialog that unravels their relationship, the visible of two equivalent males confronting one another regularly turns into emblematic of the powerful questions we should typically confront ourselves with. There’s depth to this quick, but additionally an overdose of saccharine sweetness in the direction of the tip that it might’ve accomplished with out.
Probably the most enjoyable quick within the Solos anthology can be its most heart-wrenching. Whereas many of the different episodes depend on both sharp writing or a fascinating central efficiency to work, Leah has each in spades. As a frazzled physicist attempting to crack time journey, Anne Hathaway’s comedian timing is impeccable. She dials the snark as much as a 100 as she riffs on the dearth of time-travel motion pictures with feminine protagonists, her previous self’s naivete and absolutely the shitshow that was the Game Of Thrones ending. Her pleasure is so infectious that the emotional gut-punch the quick packs halfway by way of lands much more acutely. Leah is a superb instance of how nice sci-fi needn’t be about how an invention can change the world. Typically, what it might reveal about its inventor is simply as compelling.