The Soloist

Adapted from the novel of the same name by journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) that chronicles his real life relationship with
homeless cellist Nathaniel Ayres Jr., The Soloist suggests that schizophrenia is not an illness but a way of life.

Bored with the standard fare the LA Times requires him to write, Lopez is constantly
on the lookout for a challenge. One day his interest is snared by the beautiful music a homeless man plays on a two-stringed violin.

Waiting around until the man pauses to catch his breath, Lopez learns that Nathaniel Ayres Jr. was once a student at Julliard. Eventually confirming this with Julliard, Lopez begins a series of articles for the LA Times that not only draws the attention of local politicians to the plight of the homeless but wins a coveted award for Lopez in the process.

The film portrays Lopez as member of the upper middle class whose biggest problem is keeping the raccoons out of his yard. The fact that he has a bicycle accident on his way to work, or slips in the
men’s room while trying to give a urine sample didn’t make him more a sympathetic character and took up a lot of screen time in a rather long

We learn from his former wife, fellow journalist Mary Weston (Catherine Keener) that they have a son off at college to whom he hasn’t spoken in quite some time. This issue is never resolved.

Instead, Lopez puts all of his energy into bringing Ayres into the realm of acceptable normality. In the process, Lopez gains respect for Ayres and his choice to remain on the fringe of society. Learning to understand Ayres also helps Lopez to appreciate the importance of his own family.

Making use of several filmic styles, English director Joe Wright (Atonement) offers some gorgeous wide shots that illustrate the madness of the so-called normal world.

Playing at Fifth Avenue Cinema
The Soloist
Release Date: April 24, 2009
Runtime: 117 min.
Rating: PG 13.
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: 4

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