Saturday, May 2, 2009

Review: The Soloist

Grade: A-

The Soloist is based on a true story about Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times writer who while trying to find a story in all the wrong places happened upon a homeless street musician who was playing the violin beautifully even though he only has two strings. The violinists name is Nathaniel Ayers and he claims to be a former Julliard student. Steve Lopez does a little research and discovers that Nathaniel Ayers did actually attend Julliard but dropped out after his second year. Lopez then starts to befriend Ayers in the process of trying to find out how a former Julliard student is now living on the streets of Los Angeles. People read Steve Lopez' article and start to help out however they can, one woman even sends him a Cello to give to Nathaniel Ayers so he can have an instrument in proper working order to play. As their friendship grows they start to learn things about themselves from each other.

Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) gave a great performance as LA Times writer Steve Lopez. This is probably one of the best performances of his career. Watching his characters relationship with Nathaniel Ayers was great. It all started out as just Lopez trying to find a good story then evolved into a beautiful story of him trying to help him get back on his feet. Jamie Foxx's (Ray, Collateral) performance Nathaniel Ayers Jr. was absolutely amazing. He really portrayed Ayers' schizophrenia very well and was just mesmerizing at times. Catherine Keener (40 Year-Old Virgin, Hamlet 2) was excellent as Steve Lopez's ex-wife Mary. Keener and Downey Jr. had great chemistry together in the movie and played very well off each other. This movie really just had a perfect cast.

The music in this movie was absolutely fantastic. Nathaniel Ayers had an obsession with Beethoven and there was plenty of his music throughout. All the scenes of Nathaniel Ayers playing music, even the scene where he only had two strings, were all amazing and beautiful. There was a great scene where Steve Lopez took Nathaniel Ayers to the Disney concert hall for a private viewing of the orchestras rehearsal and the scene did this great fantasia acid trip type scene where they have a bunch of different colored lights to the sounds of the music. It was great. Dario Marianelli did a fantastic job with the score of the movie that really helped it all flow along very smoothly.

The writing, acting and music in this movie was all superb. If you are looking for a good quality movie with an emotional feel good story go see The Soloist. I think this movie is an early Oscar contender.

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