The Soloist (2009)

Jamie Foxx playing a black musician, who isn’t named Ray.

This true-life drama tells the poignant tale of Los Angeles newspaper reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), who discovers brilliant street musician Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), and the unique friendship that transforms both their lives. In helping his new friend deal with his demons, Steve ends up battling with his own.

Just watching The Soloists’ trailers you can already tell this has got the same idea like the movie Shine. However, just by watching this, you can see how badly these people involved want an Oscar.

I give a lot of credit to director Joe Wright, who directed a favorite of mine Atonement. He gives that same sweet lush feeling to Los Angeles, that he did to an English Manor, or war site. He also gives us a real look at the scum that is Skid Row. However, he showed it to us too many times, to the point as where we’re actually wondering what the main story at hand really is. Either it’s a story about friendship, schizophrenia, or the majority of homeless people in LA. And with all these different stories coming into place, it feels episodic, and not one long narrative which it could have really gone for. I feel like the film went down too many avenues, and just not resolve anything.The film does do a good job at showing the struggle and frustration of dealing with mental illness, for the people that have one, or are helping a person with one. And the film mostly shows us the real nature of friendship, and how rich and pure it is, when pushed to other limits.

The one thing that will really capture your heart in this film, is the music itself. I’am not in love with orchestra music, however, I can at least appreciate the beauty that is within it, and that is what this film expresses the most. We see how Nathaniel sees the music as its playing, and really it is beautiful.

Jamie Foxx was OK in this film, he wasn’t totally insane to capture my heart, as bad as that sounds, but when he’s playing the music I could almost feel like he was just acting like Rain Man who could play music. The real stand-out here is Robert Downey Jr., who is one of those rare actors that can show off about 10 different emotions on his face at one time, and you feel like you know this character. He is sometimes a dick, but other times you can feel for him, as you know he is trying his damn hardest to make the best for this dude. Their chemistry feels real, especially at the end, and this is where the real heart of the film lies. They become friends because they both want to change each others lives, without either one knowing. I liked how a lot of real actors were used to portray their own story, and it gives you this real feeling that the film strives for.

Consensus: The Soloist has two strong leads, with a couple of powerful, inspiring messages, but it’s narrative is jaded, and goes from one end to another, and you just feel like it could have been a lot better.



  1. I was not at all impressed with this movie. Most of the things about it felt forced (including the acting) and I felt like there was always a wall between me and the material.

  2. I’ve read the book, which is definitely superior. But the movie was still pretty good. At first, I was a little skeptical about the added focus on poverty, yet I grew to like it by the time the movie was over. A totally different kind of movie for Joe Wright, and I thought he did a pretty good job.

    Just like every adaptation, they make the error of leaving stuff out. Here they left out a lot of the good stuff. Pity.

    • Joe Wright goes out of his comfort zone with this one, however, it is still a great job, because he tries to show his visual style in a different way, then just English locations.

      BTW- I’ll have your origins project in soon, I just have been so caught up with things lately.

  3. I read the book for school and I am mild Joe Wright fan, mostly because of Atonement, so I was hoping this would merge the two into something more symphonic than the book was… unfortunately that didn’t happen.

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