‘The Soloist,’ a 2009 dramatic movie starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr., is one of those rare films that hits all the right notes. This is not a happy movie or a feel-good movie, and yet, it is an emotionally satisfying movie about the restorative effects of friendship and music.
‘The Soloist’ is based upon the moving true story of journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) and cello prodigy Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). The film can readily be compared to the 2007 movie, ‘Reign Over Me.’
Reign Over Me
Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist, has a chance encounter with homeless, disturbed man, Nathaniel Ayers, who is playing a two-stringed violin on the streets of L.A. During their strange conversation, Ayers mentions to Lopez that he attended Julliard. Lopez senses a story and begins to write a series of columns about Ayers. At first Ayers is just a topic for his column, but over time, a relationship begins to form that leads to an unexpected friendship which will transform both men.
There is a strong Christian presence in ‘The Soloist,’ and for once, it isn’t vilified. A Christian ministry called the Lamp provides aid and housing for the homeless of L.A. and becomes a resource for both Ayers and Lopez, and Graham Claydon (Tom Hollander), a Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist, attempts to help rehabilitate Ayers and pray for him.
Unfortunately, ‘The Soloist’ did not do well at the box office based upon several factors – none of them related to what a gritty and moving story this is. I have not been a Jamie Foxx fan before, but he is eloquent as the schizophrenic Nathaniel Ayers. Robert Downey, Jr. is believable as a detached, driven professional who learns there is more to life than churning out the next column.
‘The Soloist’ debuted Aug. 4, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray. If you missed it in the theaters, don’t miss it on DVD. Although there is no happy ending in ‘The Soloist,’ the viewer is left with hope for Nathaniel Ayers and the nearly 100,000 other homeless people in L.A.
‘The Soloist’ is rated PG-13 and is 116 minutes long.
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