As I watched The Soloist I tried to understand what it was about. Was this a movie about the difference in societal class? Was this a movie about the underbelly of society and homelessness? Was it a movie about a struggling artist? About the struggling professional? Or was it a movie about finding oneself and personal redemption? As I soaked in this wonderful film, completely intrigued by how it would play itself out, I continued to ask myself what specifically was this film touching on. I could feel the film’s power and I knew there was a message to be taken home, but what was it? I watched and watched and in the final scene, that final handshake between two friends I realized the strength of this film; for it is all of those above things, poignantly touching on each and everyone of those themes but most of all The Soloist is a film about friendship.
The Soloist is very simply written. Robert Downey Jr. plays Steve Lopez, a respected and popular columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He is searching for a story and as he sits in a local parkade he hears some beautiful music. He goes to explore where the sound is coming from and he meets Nathaniel Thomas Ayres, played by Jamie Foxx. Mr. Ayres is homeless and quite surprisingly making the beautiful music on a two stringed violin. Some stock rambling from a homeless man and some polite response from Mr. Lopez seems to be all there is; but, as Mr. Lopez turns to walk away Mr. Ayres rambles that he once attended Julliard. This simple statement, once verified, completely intrigues Mr. Lopez and he decides to write Mr. Ayres’s story. As he gathers information and talks to Mr. Ayres both character’s lives are profoundly changed and they discover a true friendship.
This film has all the aspects to make it a great contender for Oscar consideration. The story, as mentioned above is very simple in its dialogue. So simple that its power and where it takes you creeps up and gently wraps its arms around you. This straight forward story is pleasantly surprising in an era of film that often force messages down the viewer’s throat. The cinematography is truly brilliant. Shots that paint pictures and draw us into them. It is, simply stated, beautiful. The cast are all quite exceptional. This is a dialogue film where characters just talk to each other and while other actors may throw so much of this away, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, and Catherine Keener find the beats that make this dialogue hit home. Finally, laying underneath this already very carefully layered script is a stunning classical soundtrack which ties everything together. These elements combined create a full and detailed picture which deserves recognition in the highest regard.
There are no explosions, no car chases, no Hollywood special effects to this film and it does not need them. This film carries its viewer from the meeting of two people to the point when they realize their intricate involvement in each other’s life. The film opens a secret window and lets us watch this journey happen. It is beautiful to see this true slice of life and simply remember that little things amount to great things.