Monday, April 27, 2009

The Soloist

Film: The Soloist (2009)
Dir: Joe Wright
Rating: ***1/2 out of 5 stars

To be honest, I would not have bothered watching this film if not for a certain handsome, talented actor that I am just a little enamored with. These sappy based-on-true-events stories just do not appeal to me. But as it turns out, The Soloist is a pretty good film about friendship. I did not love it, and will surely forget it before long, but its beautiful storytelling and great cast make it worth a watch.

Robert Downey Jr. portrays real-life Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez. He meets a homeless musician named Nathanial Ayers Jr. (Jamie Foxx) who claims to have attended Juliard. As it turns out he did, but dropped out shortly thereafter despite being one of the school's most talented students. Lopez decides to write an article about Ayers and helps him by coaxing him to join a homeless community. It becomes very apparent that Ayers suffers from a mental disorder, most likely schizophrenia. The more Lopez tries to "fix" Ayers, the worse things become.

Foxx is good as the mentally tormented Ayers, and his love for music seems genuine. Against him, I think Downey Jr. is sure to be overlooked critically, but Robert is really fantastic here. At first, he is indifferent to Ayers passion for music, but he comes to understand the power of it and it changes both of them. He also struggles to do good by Ayers but ultimately realizes that sometimes the best thing you can do for somebody is simply to be their friend.

Joe Wright tells the story beautifully and I wouldnt be surprised if he is a music lover himself. There is even a whole scene dedicated to showing the music visually, wherein we see no actors or action, just color and music. It is a surprising and inventive scene - certainly not something I expected to see in a mainstream film.

The Soloist is worth seeing at least once, for a nice feel-good movie with great performances. I myself am not a music lover - though I can certainly appreciate it - but I think fans of classical music might really enjoy this film, also. It seems to do justice to the art and those who are passionate about it.