Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) is an ambivalently divorced writer for the Los Angeles Times who one day runs across a homeless violinist (Jamie Foxx) in a city park. After the man casually mentions amidst a stream of babbling that he is a former Juliard student, Lopez's interest is piqued and he thinks that he may have his next story idea. Lopez writes his column (it turns out that the man, Nathaniel Ayers, was, in fact, a student at Juliard, but dropped out after he developed schizophrenia in his second year), but isn't quite prepared for the friendship that develops between the two men. Lopez wants to help Ayers, and he has genuinely good intentions, but when things don't go the way he hopes they will he suddenly finds himself wanting to divest himself of the responsibility for Ayers.
Lopez is a man trying to find hope in a city where almost no one seems to care. He is an everyman. He's us anytime we've witnessed a sad scene and thought that we wished we could do something, but felt like the world's ills were all just a little too great for one person to cure. He's us anytime we've wanted to quit the moment when the moment has disappointed us.
In the end Lopez figures out that true friendship is more powerful than any drug cure, and that he is as much in need of that friendship as the man he is trying so hard to give it to.
The film is odd at times, but it does a terrific job of conveying the fractured mind of a schizophrenic to the audience, and of making us understand some of what it must be like to slowly lose one's hold on what is real and what is not. Jamie Foxx is an amazing actor and did an unbelievable job in this film, and Downey Jr. did not disappoint (he is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors). This reviewer literally had to choke back tears almost anytime Foxx and Downey Jr. were together on screen. They are that good, and the story is that powerful.
The Soloist is a film about humanity, and hope. Hope that humanity can rise above its selfish nature and look outside to those who are in need of caring. In the real world, sometimes all that's needed to cause change is for someone to care.
The Soloist is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
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