The soloist book review

"The Soloist" has all the elements of an uplifting drama, other than for the uplift. The story is compelling, the actors are in location, but I was never sure what the filmdevices wanted me to feel about it. Based on a true story, it stars Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless guy who was when a musical prodigy, and Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles Times columnist that writes a column about him, bonds through him, renders him well known, becomes discouraged by the man"s mental condition and also -- what? Hears him play excellent music?


"Explaining madness is the most limiting and primarily leastern convincing thing a movie deserve to carry out," Pauline Kael as soon as composed. "The Soloist" does not even seem sure exactly how to depict it. Unfavor Rusoffer Crowe"s mathematician in "A Beautiful Mind," whose madness was construed with his very own eyes, the musician below seems even more of a loosened cannon, unpredictable in random ways. Yes, mental illness can be favor that, however deserve to effective drama? There comes a suggest as soon as Lopez has actually had actually sufficient, and also so, in sympathy, have actually we.

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That is no fault of Jamie Foxx"s performance creating a man who is tense, fearful, paranoid and also more than likely schizophrenic. We deserve to nearly smell his terror, through the carnival clown clothes and also hats he hides behind. When Foxx learned of this function, he might sensibly have sensed another Academy Award. Unfortunately, the sceenwriter and also director don"t put up a framework for Oscar-style elevation, nor carry out they really desire to make a severe and also doleful film about mental disease. But those are the 2 apparent possibilities below, and "The Soloist" appears shed between them.

As the film opens up, Lopez is troubled. His marital relationship has problems, he feels melted out at work-related, he"s had a bike accident. He encounters Ayers practically exterior the Times building, attracted by the beautiful sounds he"s developing on a violin through just two strings. The guy have the right to play. Lopez tries to gain to know him, writes a first column about him, learns he as soon as stupassed away cello at Juilliard. A reader sends Lopez a cello for him (this actually happened), and the columnist becomes his brother"s keeper.

This is a thankmuch less and perhaps futile job. "The Soloist" does a really efficient job of mirroring us a rehab facility on Sboy Row, and the reason so many homeless avoid such shelters. It"s not what happens inside, however the gauntlet of street human being crucial to run simply to acquire to its doors. Indistinction around adequate treatment for our homeless population was among the priorities of the Selfish Generation.

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As a mentally ill male, Ayers is unpredictable and explosive, yes, yet virtually as if responding to the arc of the screenplay. Characters have arcs in the majority of movies, yet the trick is to convince us we"re watching them really behave actually. Here Foxx is let down, and also the disappointment is higher bereason of the track records of director Joe Wappropriate ("Atonement") and writer Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"). We see a link in between the two men, yet not interaction.

As a newspaper columnist, Downey is plausible as his overworked, disillusioned character, finding redemption with a story. And Catherine Keener, like Helen Mirren in "State of Play," convinces me she might really be an editor. Both actresses carry a welcome readjust of pace from the typical Lou Grant form. Talk around disillusionment; the old-timers can not believe their eyes these days. The Los Angeles Times of this movie is at least still being successful.

As for the music, Beethcooktop of course is always uplifting, yet the movie does not employ him as an emotional showstopper, as Debussy"s "Clair de Lune" is offered in "Tokyo Sonata." There"s no clear principle of what it would certainly mean have to Ayers triumph in a public debut; would certainly it be a life-altering moment or only an anomaly on his tragic road through life? Can he be salvaged? Does he want to be? Or will be always be a soloist, playing to his demons in the darkness under a bridge?


*

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicback Sun-Times from 1967 till his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.