|Directed by||Joe Wright|
|Produced by||Gary Foster
Book and articles:
Robert Downey, Jr.
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Editing by||Paul Tothill|
Working Title Films
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures
|Release date(s)||24 April 2009 (US)
11 September 2009 (UK)
|Running time||117 min.|
|Box office||$38,332,994 (worldwide)|
The Soloist is a 2009 American drama film directed by Joe Wright, and starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. The screenplay by Susannah Grant is based on the book, The Soloist by Steve Lopez. The film is based on the true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who developed schizophrenia and became homeless.
Foxx portrays Ayers, who is considered a cello prodigy, and Downey portrays Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who discovers Ayers and writes about him in the newspaper. The film was released in theatres on 24 April 2009 and on DVD and Blu-ray August 5.
In 2005, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a journalist working for the L.A. Times. He is divorced and now works for his ex-wife, Mary (Catherine Keener), an editor. A biking accident lands Lopez in a hospital.
One day, he hears a violin being played beautifully. Investigating, he encounters Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a homeless schizophrenic, who is playing a violin when Lopez introduces himself. During the conversation that follows, Lopez learns that Ayers once attended Juilliard.
Curious as to how a former student of such a prestigious school ended up on the streets, Lopez contacts Juilliard but learns that no record of Ayers graduating from it exists. Though at first figuring a schizophrenic who's talented with a violin isn't worth his time, Lopez soon realizes that he has no better story to write about. Luckily, he soon learns that Ayers did attend Juilliard, but dropped out after two years.
Finding Ayers the next day, Lopez says he wants to write about him. Ayers doesn't appear to be paying attention. Getting nowhere, Lopez finds and contacts Ayers' sister (Lisa Gay Hamilton), who gives the columnist the information he needs: Ayers was once a child prodigy, until he began displaying symptoms of schizophrenia at Juilliard. Unable to handle the voices, Ayers dropped out and ended up on the streets.
Lopez writes his article. One reader is so touched, she sends him a cello for Ayers. Lopez brings it to him and Ayers is shown to be just as proficient as with a violin. Unfortunately, his tendency to wander puts both Ayers and the cello in danger, so Lopez talks him into leaving it at a shelter, located in a neighborhood of homeless people. Ayers is later seen playing for the homeless.
A concerned Lopez tries to get a doctor he knows (Nelsan Ellis) to help. He also tries to talk Ayers into getting an apartment, but Ayers refuses. After seeing a reaction to music played at an opera house, Lopez persuades another friend, Graham (Tom Hollander), a cellist, to rehabilitate Ayers through music. The lessons go well, though Ayers is shown to be getting a little too attached to Lopez, much to the latter's annoyance. Lopez eventually talks Ayers into moving into an apartment by threatening to abandon him.
Lopez' article on Ayers gains so much fame, Ayers is given the chance to perform a recital. Sadly, he loses his temper, attacks Graham and leaves. This convinces Lopez' doctor friend to get Ayers some help. But when Ayers learns what Lopez is up to, he throws Lopez out of his apartment and threatens to kill him.
While speaking with Mary, Lopez realizes that not only has he changed Ayers' life, Ayers has changed him. Determined to make amends, Lopez brings Ayers' sister to L.A. for a visit. Ayers and Lopez make up. Later, while all watch an orchestra, Lopez ponders how beneficial their friendship has been. Ayers still hears voices, but at least he no longer lives on the streets. In addition, Ayers has helped Lopez's relationship with his own family.
It is revealed in the end that Ayers is still a member of the LAMP Community and that Lopez is learning how to play the guitar.
- Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers
- Robert Downey, Jr. as Steve Lopez
- Catherine Keener as Mary Weston
- Tom Hollander as Graham Claydon
- Lisa Gay Hamilton as Jennifer
- Nelsan Ellis as David Carter
- Rachael Harris as Leslie Bloom
- Stephen Root as Curt Reynolds
- Lorraine Toussaint as Flo Ayers
- Justin Martin as Young Nathaniel Ayers
- Octavia Spencer as Troubled Woman
- Jena Malone as Cheery Lab Tech
- Lemon Andersen as Uncle Tommy
The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright, was written by Susannah Grant, based on a series of columns written by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who chronicled the plight of Nathaniel Ayers, Jr., a musician with schizophrenia, and eventually was chronicled in Lopez' book, The Soloist. Grant drew elements of the story from a book written by Lopez, which was published in the spring of 2008. The film was budgeted at $60 million, twice the budget amount of Wright's previous film, Atonement. Production began in January 2008 and was filmed mostly in Los Angeles, with some scenes shot in Cleveland.
Overall, the film has received mixed reviews. Based on 120 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall rating 55% (considered "Rotten") of reviews being positive with an average score of 6/10. At Metacritic the film received an average score of 61 out of 100, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 32 reviews. Reviewers generally praise the performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, but comment on the film's lack of narrative focus in attempting to tell a convincing or engaging story due to the somewhat "uneven" direction by director Joe Wright. Many felt that the project was a bit of a "mismatch" for Wright, and felt it was one of his weakest films to date, following the success of his adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
The film was nominated for the 2010 Vits Awards for "Best Directing" and "Best Music".
On its opening weekend, the film opened #4 behind Fighting, 17 Again, and Obsessed, grossing $9,715,000 in 2,024 theaters with a $4,800 average per theater. The film went on to only recover about half of its total budget bringing in $31,720,158. This was blamed on the film's initial release date being postponed, as well as the film's release coming one week before the 2009 summer movie season.
- Thompson, Anne (2008-10-19). "Wright's 'Soloist' won't play holiday". Variety.
- "Steve Lopez on Nathaniel Anthony Ayers". Los Angeles Times.
- Michael Fleming (2007-08-16). "Jamie Foxx tunes up for 'Soloist'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- Michael Fleming (2007-08-27). "Downey Jr. joins Wright's 'Soloist'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
- "Atonement director shocked by big Hollywood budget". World Entertainment News Network. 2008-01-14.
- "The Soloist Movie Reviews, Pictures". IGN Entertainment. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-04=26.
- "Soloist, The (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for April 24–26, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- Thompson, Anne. "Wright's 'Soloist' won't play holiday", Variety, October 19, 2008.
- Official website
- The Soloist at the Internet Movie Database
- The Soloist at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Soloist at Box Office Mojo
- The Soloist at AllRovi
- Chris Orr's review of The Soloist at The New Republic
- Nathaniel Ayers Performs July 2009 NAMI Convention