This has got to be the oddest film to be released in this time frame. Why Dreamworks would choose to release The Soloist, a deep tale of friendship and redemption, on the weekend before the summer move season, a spot occupied by films such as Harold and Kumar 2 and Baby Mama in the past, is beside me. The film was originally supposed to be released in November 2008, but got changed to April 24th, 2009, a move that put its Oscar chances in the ground. Its a shame this movie will be so overlooked by some because it is one of the most bold, touching, and inspirational films I’ve seen in a while.
The Soloist, a film directed by Joe Wright (of Atonement fame), is based off a true story about the bond between an LA Times writer and a mentally disturbed homeless musician. Robert Downey Jr, after a powerhouse summer last year with Iron Man and Tropic Thunder, plays Steve Lopez, the LA Times writer who discovers Nathaniel Ayres (Jamie Foxx), the homeless musician. The two share an awkward meeting at first, which Lopez writes an article on. The two continue to meet and start to develop a friendship that slowly starts to improve both Ayers and Lopez’s lives. The film also stars Cathrine Keener as Lopez’s ex-wife and LA Times editor, and Tom Hollander as a caring a Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist who tries to help Ayers get back on track musically. The film’s main focus is the friendship between Lopez and Ayers, but the film sneaks in a powerful punch about the homeless situation across America.
This film rides heavily on the performances of Foxx and Downey Jr. The two both bring their best to the plate, and both hit their performances out of the park. Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Nathanial Ayers was one that was extremely powerful. You can feel his pain and his suffering with the music he makes. The depth that Foxx puts into te performance is one that is Oscar worthy. Downey Jr continues his streak with this role. He makes a full 180 turn from a nonchalant writer to an emotional wreck. Downey Jr does what he does best. He keeps you so interested in his character that you crave him on screen the whole movie. The two both shine in their performances. Their on-screen time together is just a heavy hit to the heart every second. The film could not have been what it was without Foxx and Downey Jr.
The direction in the film is done very well by Joe Wright. The director took a huge step from the period piece romance (Pride and Prejudice and Atonement) to a modern day tale set in Los Angeles. His risk paid off. The way the film is directed is very intriguing and flat out neat. Wright takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotion. The cinematography is another great aspect of the film. The writer of the film had a difficult task of adapting the book, a series of articles, into a motion picture, but did a wonderful job at it. The film was overall a great success on the crew side.
I thought that The Soloist will be 2009’s best movie nobody saw. Although it had an A-list cast and a powerful message, some will choose to let this one slide onto their list of films to try get around and see when the time is right, but probably will not. I hope that you as the reader will give this film a chance as soon as you can because it will be worth the effort. The film will put a thought in your head, a smile in your face, and maybe even a tear in your eye. Overall, the film is a powerful tale with memorable performances by Foxx and Downey Jr. I recommend seeing this one before the summer season begins.