I took me a time to make the effort to get around to watching Solace. The simple reason for this being that I had seen far too many clairvoyant murder mystery films. This is a genre that has a long history on film and little of it interesting. See the likes of Eyes of Laura Mars (1978), Double Exposure (1981), Cassandra (1987), Fear (1990), Murderous Vision (1991), Dead On Sight (1994), Sensation (1994), Hideaway (1995), A Deadly Vision (1997), After Alice (1999), In Dreams (1999), The Gift (2000), Murder Scene (2000), Troubled Waters (2006), Empathy (2007), The Cell 2 (2009), Let Me Die Quietly (2009) and In/Sight (2011) as well as tv movies like The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972), Visions (1972) and Baffled! (1973). Most of the films are no more than detective stories where someone with the ability to foresee simply replaces a standard Sherlock Holmes-type character making ingenious deductions. The powers and the effect they might have on the user are explored no further than that.
Even as it sets in, Solace suggests it is going to be no more than a serial killer thriller variant on the clairvoyance film. Certainly, you are impressed by the star power the film has managed to bring together it is a surprise that such a film did not end up getting a major theatrical release. On the other hand, this type of thriller has vanished from screens in recent years and as the overly familiar serial killer thriller plot kicks in, you wonder what new things Solace could possibly rack up on the genre.
However, the difference soon becomes apparent. Solace places the emphasis on well-written dialogue and solid performances. Under Brazilian director Afonso Poyart, the dramatics are understated and perfectly modest in allowing the story and actors to carry the show. Anthony Hopkins, who is also the films executive producer, gives an exceptional performance. The scenes where he persuades a Christian Science family to allow their sons body to be exhumed by telling them about the death of his own daughter; or where he tears Abbie Cornish apart by telling her details that he has picked up about her life are utterly riveting occasions where all the drama in the scene is delivered by Hopkins performance alone.
However, it is not until the surprise entrance of Colin Farrell about halfway through that Solace is suddenly propelled into something extraordinary. Farrell has an amazing scene sitting down in a cafe booth opposite Anthony Hopkins, making a persuasive case for him being a sympathetic killer who prevents suffering and then outlining the possible outcomes of every action that each of them could take from that instant. It is this that suddenly propels Solace from being yet another clairvoyant thriller into the realm of the decidedly watchable. The idea of two clairvoyants on either side of the law outmanoeuvring one another was previously done in Fear but this does extraordinary things with it. Thereafter the film plays on another whole level about Hopkins pursuing the clues leading to Farrell and Farrell having the ability to foresee every course of action in advance, leading to a gripping ending. The ending the film arrives at and its moral quandary is a place not dissimilar to the ending of Se7en.
(Nominee for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Best Actress (Abbie Cornish) at this sites Best of 2015 Awards).