Tchaiko Omawale: Director, Writer, Producer
1 hour 20 minutes
In a world is full of injustice, it can be hard to choose just one thing to protest. Do you take a stand against the exploitation of child soldiers? Or human trafficking? Or global warming? Or do you, as the grieving protagonist in Tchaiko Omawale’s “Solace” comes to realize, that you have no choice but to confront the most personal wounds first?
We meet Sole, 17, played by Hope Olaidé Wilson, just as her comatose father is dying, leaving her orphaned and vulnerable. She is sent across the country from her home in New York to Los Angeles to live with her estranged grandmother Irene, played with smothering cheer by Lynn Whitfield.
Instead of being given space to grieve, Sole finds herself held captive by her grandmother’s uptight sunniness, leaving her with no outlets for her sadness and anger. She attempts to comfort herself, binging on hidden stashes of junk food, to no avail. Even in her dreams, she is trapped and writhing with discomfort.
Then she meets the crazy young neighbors.
With Jasmine (Chelsea Tavares) and Guedado (Luke Rampersad), she creates a “trio of motherless souls,” urging them to help her create a piece of protest art that will win her a trip back to her beloved New York City. They too are in spirals of sadness and self-destruction, but, unlike Sole, can’t put their finger on just one thing to protest. They don’t understand her concept, but, with nothing better to do, they embrace protest art as a form of escape.
Wilson’s poignant portrayal of Sole’s desperation makes it easy to see why she is more at ease explaining to her friends the intellectual underpinnings of praxis than it is for her to tell them that she is sad, lonely and confused about the push and pull of intimacy that is driving her to binge and further isolate herself.
The coming-of-age story brings a new twist in that it is not just the teens who find a way to help each other out of their own despair. In the end, Irene finds a way to remove the mask of false cheer that has helped her deal with her own grief by connecting with her granddaughter. In doing so, they find their way to a tenderness, and “Solace,” both had kept under lock and key.
By Mary Grace Gallagher