Stanley Kauffmann in The New Republic:
Along with other distinctions, Goodbye Solo is the first Iranian film made in North Carolina. Ramin Bahrani, the director and co-author, was born in Winston-Salem in 1975 to Iranian parents, grew up there, and after taking a degree at Columbia University went to Iran for three years. There he began his film work. Back in New York, he made Man Push Cart, unseen by me, and Chop Shop, most gratefully seen by me. In Chop Shop Bahrani traced delicacy amid grossness–the struggle for selfhood in a boy caught in a world of clanking auto repair and thievery. For his third feature, Bahrani returned to what we can with a straight face call his hometown. There, with Bahareh Azimi, who collaborated on the script for his last film, he made Goodbye Solo.
The film can be called Iranian because it virtually asks for it. Iran makes many kinds of films, but in the United States and some other countries the Iranian films that have registered and that remain precious–chiefly those of Abbas Kiarostami–are concerned with large matters of spirit, values in life, even in death. People in those films are in a profoundly contradictory state. On the one hand, they see every day as another day to be dealt with in ways that lie to hand; but they also see every day as a means to weigh the worth of the lives they are living. Hovering over them all is commonality–a linkage with everyone they meet, a sense that they are all bound in a destiny that, no matter what, can be borne in fellowship. Allow for some exceptions, and we can say that, whatever their station, they live both seriously and humbly.