|Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr, Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, Lisa Gay Hamilton
|September 3, 2009
Steve Lopez (Downey Jr) is a journalist for the Los Angeles Times. One day, while walking through a park, he sees a dishevelled looking guy playing beautiful violin music. Even more astounding is the fact that the violin has just two strings.
The pair strike up a conversation and Steve learns that this man’s name is Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx). Nathaniel speaks quickly, often incoherently. There’s something a little odd about him. It’s an off the cuff comment that grabs Steve’s attention. Nathaniel mentions that he attended the Julliard School, one of the most prestigious musical colleges in the United States. This gives Steve a story. Why is such a talented cellist living as a bum on the streets of Los Angeles?
His investigations reveal that Nathaniel suffers from schizophrenia. It was a condition that gripped him late in his teen years. He has trouble dealing with people and pushes them away, even when they're trying to help.
What initially began as a human interest story will become an enduring friendship. Steve’s life seemingly stops. I’m not sure why exactly but he's on a pursuit to get Nathaniel’s life back on track. He thinks he can make things better, by getting Nathaniel medication and an apartment, but he will soon learn that life isn’t that easy. There are some battles that cannot be won.
This is film is based on actual events and has been brought to the screen by acclaimed director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). Right from the opening scenes, I had concerns about the way in which the story is told. It felt too “preachy” and I didn’t feel much for either of the two characters. I like both Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr but had trouble picturing both of them in these roles.
I was also puzzled by the flashbacks and why they didn’t tell us more about Nathaniel’s past and the evolution of his disorder. When the closing credits started rolling, I was left pondering what I supposed to take away from the film. Was it a film about schizophrenia? Or was it more about the homeless people living in America? I don’t know.
There were moments of promise in The Soloist but I admit to feeling let-down given the reputation of the filmmakers.