Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Soloist Is A Tragic Story Of Brilliance

I have said before that when a movie is based on a "real" person or event, Hollywood usually takes a view that is slightly different than the real occurrence. In "The Soloist" based on a book by Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.), and his amazing story of the life of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Jr. (Jamie Foxx).

Steve Lopez (Downey Jr.) hasn't had a good story in a while and the newspaper where he works is laying off journalists due to falling ratings. When he happens upon a homeless violinist, Ayers Jr. playing with only 2 strings. Ayers was a former Julliard student who begins to trust Lopez, and a friendship grows. When Lopez first checks Ayers story about Julliard, he is disappointed to find out that there wasn't anyone in the schools records by that name. Later he finds out that the reason Ayers name didn't come up at first is because he never graduated, he dropped out in his sophomore year. Lopez, who is influenced by the talent of the man he can only see now, writes story after story about the man with two strings. Soon gifts start to pour in from the readers who are moved by the plight of this talented man. Soon Lopez gets Ayers to store his instruments at a homeless facility called Lamp, and tells him if he wants to play them then Ayers has to go to this facility.

Ayers is schizophrenic, and has violent outburst for reasons that he feels are worthy of his time. Litter, especially cigarette butts are the number one thing that sets him off. Ayers is never more alive then when he is playing, he hears things and feels things that no one else can contemplate. Lopez makes such an impact in the city of Angels that even the Mayor comes to speak to Ayers, he also pledges fifty million dollars to help end the homelessness on skid row. Once Ayers agrees to go to Lamp, Lopez is sure that with medicine Ayers can be cured, he is given the facts by David (Nelson Ellis) one of the men who runs Lamp, he says if Nathaniel isn't ready for med's then he won't take them. Steve tells Nathaniel that an apartment is available at lamp and that Nathaniel can use it as a studio to play his music, Nathaniel is reluctant to go there because he feels that someone will steal his cart. Lopez works for his ex wife Alison, (Catherine Keener), who is fighting to keep the paper going, cutbacks and layoffs happen everyday, even with the stories of Ayers becoming such a huge hit, the paper still is hit with several lay offs. She is a little jealous of the success that Steve is getting, but keeps telling him that if he is committed to Ayers than he has to go all the way.

One of the perks that Steve is able to give to Nathaniel are tickets to see a rehearsal of the Philharmonic Orchestra. Nathaniel is aware that he is homeless and this is one reason that Steve suggests the rehearsals instead of a performance, Nathaniel goes and is so captivated by the music that he is able to slip away from his reality and just feel the music. This scene is touching and tender to watch. Of course Nathaniel's disease comes into play one day when Steve brings some papers to where Nathaniel is staying, they had agreed that Nathaniel's sister Jennifer (Lisa Gay Hamilton) would be his executor. The day Steve brings the papers over, Nathaniel misunderstands them and gets angry at Steve, he threatens to kill him if he ever comes around again. Steve picks up Jennifer at the airport and takes her to Lamp, Nathaniel has been staying there more and more.

I give The Soloist a 3 and on my avoidance scale a 0. The movie ends as Nathaniel tells Steve he is sorry for saying the things he did, the disease is as heartbreaking to the friends and family as it is horrendous to the victim. This is a touching movie that will make your heart ache. This is a movie that should be seen, though it does seem to drag at points, it's understandable, there is no "light" way to tell this story.

The Soloist is rated PG-13 for Thematic Elements, some Drug Use and Language
Running time is 1 hr. 57 mins.

No comments: