Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joe Wright|
|Produced by||Gary Foster
|Written by||Susannah Grant|
|Based on||The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
by Steve Lopez
Robert Downey, Jr.
Lisa Gay Hamilton
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Edited by||Paul Tothill|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures (North America)
Universal Pictures (international)
|24 April 2009 (US)
11 September 2009 (UK)
|Box office||$38.3 million|
The Soloist is a 2009 British-American drama film directed by Joe Wright, and starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr.. It is based on the true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who developed schizophrenia and became homeless. The screenplay by Susannah Grant is based on the book, The Soloist by Steve Lopez.
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 cello being played beautifully. Investigating, he encounters Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a homeless man with schizophrenia, 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 man with schizophrenia who's talented with a cello 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 with the cello, until he began displaying symptoms of schizophrenia at Juilliard. Unable to handle the voices, Ayers dropped out and ended up on the streets due to the delusion that his sister wanted to kill him. Without a cello, he has resorted to playing a two-string violin.
Lopez writes his article. One reader is so touched that she sends him a cello for Ayers. Lopez brings it to him and Ayers shows he is 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.
Through Lopez's article on Ayers, Ayers gains so much fame that he is given the chance to perform a recital. Sadly, he loses his temper, attacks Graham, and leaves. This convinces Lopez's doctor friend to get Ayers 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, but 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 improve Lopez's relationship with his own family.
It is revealed at the end that Ayers is still a member of the LAMP Community – a Los Angeles nonprofit organization that seeks to help people living with severe mental illness – 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.
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.
The film received positive to mixed reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating 56%, based on 200 reviews, with an average score of 5.9/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though it features strong performances by its lead players, a lack of narrative focus prevents The Soloist from hitting its mark." At Metacritic the film received an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable 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 soundtrack to The Soloist was released on April 21, 2009.
|1.||"Pershing Square"||Dario Marianelli||0:48|
|2.||"Crazy About Beethoven"||Dario Marianelli||2:01|
|3.||"Paper Mache World"||Dario Marianelli||1:33|
|4.||"A City Symphony"||Dario Marianelli||3:41|
|5.||"This Is My Apartment"||Dario Marianelli||1:54|
|6.||"There Is No Escape"||Dario Marianelli||1:36|
|7.||"Falling Apart"||Dario Marianelli||1:10|
|8.||"Four Billion Years"||Dario Marianelli||2:54|
|9.||"Nathaniel Breaks Down"||Dario Marianelli||5:31|
|10.||"Accordion Interlude"||Dario Marianelli||2:07|
|11.||"The Lord's Prayer"||Dario Marianelli||3:12|
|12.||"The Voices Within"||Dario Marianelli||2:09|
|14.||"Cello Lesson"||Dario Marianelli||2:27|
|15.||"Mr. Ayers And Mr. Lopez"||Dario Marianelli||11:10|
- Child, Ben (28 September 2009). "You review: The Soloist". theguardian.com. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- "The Soloist". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- 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.
- "Weekend Box Office Results for April 24–26, 2009". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- "The Soloist Movie Reviews, Pictures". IGN Entertainment. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-07-30.
- "Soloist, The (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- The Soloist Soundtrack TheOST. Retrieved February 24, 2014
- Thompson, Anne. "Wright's 'Soloist' won't play holiday", Variety, October 19, 2008.
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