Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Soloist

Movie name: The Soloist
Year of release: 2008
Director: Joe Wright
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr., Catherine Keener, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Todd Hollander, Stephen Root, Justin Martin, Rachael Harris, Rob Nagle
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Following the success of "Atonement", Joe Wright returns with another prestige film, based on the book by Steve Lopez. "The Soloist" follows the story of two men, both damaged by life, both trying to resume their paths in some way. The film starts by introducing us to Steve Lopez, a divorced journalist, trying to find a good story to report (his newspaper is cutting away on its' staff). When he accidentally meets Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man with a strange aptitude for music, he begins researching his life and how someone that talented ended up on the streets of LA. His findings and his attempts to improve Nathaniel's life end up changing not only Nathaniel but himself. The film has a very interesting assumption, but ends up falling under the fallacy that people who have mental illnesses are somehow more sensitive and in tune with the beauty of life, than everyone else (who are too busy with mundane things). What saves the film from drowning in it's sappiness are the performances of Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr and Catherine Keener. They all create believable people, not stereotypes. Downey Jr. and Catherine Keener in particular create people who have their flaws, but who are trying to go on with their lives retaining some sense of artistic integrity and also make a difference in the world. This is a film that though with it's shortcomings has great production values, in particular the beautiful photography of Seamus McGarvey. Worth checking out.