International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Film
Directed by Joe Wright starring Robert Downey Jnr and Jamiie Foxx
tells the true story of how journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey
Jr) met and befriended the homeless but exceptionally gifted musician
Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). From British director Joe Wright (Pride
& Prejudice and Atonement) The Soloist
is a powerful and moving film with amazing performances from its
central stars as well as solid support from Catherine Keener (of
The Forty Year Old Virgin fame).
Lopez works for
the Los Angeles Times newspaper and is struggling to find
a topical story until a chance encounter with Ayers playing a violin
(with only two strings) next to a statue of Beethoven. Intrigued by
the ensuing conversation Lopez decides to tell Ayers story little realizing
where it will take both men and their lives.
The film follows the two of them as they form an unlikely friendship
as Lopez uncovers more and more about the talented but deeply troubled
Ayers. I found myself riveted throughout its duration, testament to
the actors performances who are totally convincing, giving heartfelt
career best performances.
A film that tackles mental illness and homelessness is probably not
every cinema goers idea of entertainment but I would urge everyone to
see this film as it is such a rare film from Hollywood: a non-glossy
warts and all account of real life in LA. The city is beautifully
shot from all angles, particularly a moment when the camera follows
some pigeons as they rise from an underpass right up to the sky. It
is also grimly realistic and tackles its strong subject matter head
on. I was totally unaware of the huge social problem in central LA where
the film informs us there are over 90,000 homeless people. The
Soloist shows this area and portrays it unflinchingly; it is almost
like a community within a city, except it is of the forgotten and displaced.
If nothing else it reveals the darker side of our world.
The film avoids being preachy or too schmaltzy. In fact I was very impressed
with the restraint and straight telling of everything which is a tribute
to the screenplay by Susannah Grant (based on Steve Lopezs book).
Ultimately this is an uplifting film about a tough contemporary subject.
It deserves to do well and is a very welcome change to the usual fare
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