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Review

‘The Soloist’ does not receive full attention of audience it deserves

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April 30, 2009

Some movies fly under the radar, when they should be getting the full attention of all audiences, and “The Soloist” is no exception. With its cast of Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, one would have thought it would be receiving more press, but it truly seems to have fallen by the wayside. The film is a masterpiece in both the technical and acting aspects, but it does fall short in getting audiences through the story, although it has an excellent plot.

The movie is based on the true story of the relationship between L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez and a homeless musician with schizophrenia by the name of Nathaniel Ayers. The film follows the two, as Steve makes attempts to try to better Nathaniel’s quality of life, while writing about their relationship in his column. The movie also does a lot to try to make the audience aware of the homeless population and their daily struggles, especially those who suffer from mental illness, and it does a good job of it too.

Foxx and Downey Jr. truly did step up to the plate with this movie when it comes to acting. Not only is it believable, it does really play with the emotional heart strings (pun very much intended) of the audience because it is just that good. The audience is brought in by the interactions between the two, especially towards the end when Steve sees just how much he has affected another person. Granted it is still early in the year, but I would not be surprised if at least one of them was able to garner some award nominations for the film.

The true glory of sound is brought out within this movie to great effect. The movie has a lot to do with music, and the sequences where Nathaniel plays or even listens to music are some of the most beautiful sequences throughout the film. However, there is indeed a dark and haunting side brought out in the film through Nathaniel’s schizophrenia, where shrieks, wails and voices do torment him, and can even scare the audience. Overall, with the mix of the two, it does a great job of capturing a range of human emotion.

What the film does not accomplish entirely is getting the audience through the plot. It is a slow movie, not that I mind, but most people will be bothered by the fact that there isn’t a whole lot that happens throughout the course of the film. The movie does indeed reflect real life in its harsh realities and small triumphs, but most audiences are not going to want to see real life on the screen, and it will bore most audiences with its pacing and lack of action.

Once again, I have seen a movie that will be in my mind for quite awhile, but I doubt that many others will enjoy it as much as I. But, if nothing else than getting to see Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. do what they do best, I would suggest this movie to anyone who asks me. Even with its shortcomings, it’s a movie that truly does come out to make audiences think. Almost everyone leaving the theater will at least be humming Beethoven for quite awhile after, therefore leaving an effect on them, which is exactly what movies are supposed to do.

Stars: 3.5

Nathan Piotrowski is a digital film and television major with a film studies minor. In his spare time, he attempts to be a professional lottery winner.