I try to post about the movies I watch in the order that I watch them, but I just left The Soloist and I feel the need to break that pattern and right about this movie while it is very fresh in my mind.
As you can pick up from the trailers The Soloist is based on the true story of L.A. Time writer Steve Lopez and his coverage of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a Juliard musician who has ended up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. It is a story of a city, a group of people, and an unlikely friendship. However, more than anything this is a movie about faith.
The faith theme that runs through this movie is not limited to the traditional “god” or religious faith that will immediately spring into people’s minds, though that is in the film; The Soloist deals with faith in a great many forms – the faith between friends, faith that there is a purpose to life, faith that you can push past struggles, and most importantly the need to have something to believe in to go forward every day as the world tries to fight against you. In this movie Steve tries to find the sense in Nathaniels situation in life and he struggles to reach out to the confused, the lonely, and those whom he would never interact with if he didn’t have Nathaniel in his life; Steve operates on the faith or belief that Nathaniel has a story that is worth discovering and to understand that he needs to see part of the world that Nathaniel is in.
What kills me about The Soloist is that the release date is going to kill this movie. This is a movie that should not have been pushed into a month so near summer. It’s going to alienate the audience this movie deserves because they are going to expect a much lighter, cheerier movie that they will see. Parts of The Soloist are down right experimental and that is going to force The Soloist into a much smaller audience than it might have received in a fall/awards season month.
Jamie Foxx will be lauded for his performance as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, as he should because he is in the Dustin Hoffman/Rainman category of greatness, but I have a feeling that because of this Robert Downey Jr. will not get as much credit as he deserves. The character of Lopez is real, the straight man trying to pull his life together and though he goes through quite an arch in the film the transformation of Lopez from beginning to end is much more subtle than the character of Ayers. My favorite scenes in the film were actually when Downey was reacting to his situation with Ayers; two notable ones were when he first listens to Ayers play the cello and the emotions that run through his eyes alone are the kind that make you think he has become another person, and a scene where Lopez quietly breaks down to his ex-wife about how Nathaniel has slowly broken his heart. I know Downey is a phenomenal actor but he never ceases to amaze me.
The only think that disappointed me about The Soloist is that the film is a bit more of a downer than it appears to be in the trailers. However, the film hits perfect notes all the way through, and tacking on a “uplifting” ending would not be true to the characters or the film.
Director: Joe Wright
Writer: Susannah Grant
Steve Lopez: Robert Downey Jr.
Nathaniel Ayers: Jamie Foxx
Mary Whitman: Catherine Keener