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The Soloist Actors Don’t Disappoint

Prolific columnist Steve Lopez found a great human-interest story in a schizophrenic homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers, a former Julliard cello virtuoso.

Joe Wright, the director of Atonement, was hired to the project along with stars, Jamie Foxx as Ayers and Robert Downey Jr., as Lopez. The elements are there but the execution falters as the story unfolds.

Susanna Grant’s screenplay, based on true events, tries valiantly to keep our interest but inspirational films can rise just so far before they let loose with their climactic picture-ending scene that ties everything together and rewards our attendance.

The only reward we can appreciate is the acting of Catherine Keener, Foxx and Downey. Keener’s brief presence doesn’t figure that much in the story but, thankfully, her male co-stars do. Foxx is believable as the erratic bi-polar Ayers and once again gives a solid performance.  But, it is the chameleon-like Downey who continues to excel in every role regardless how bizarre or ordinary that gives heart to the story. 

Seamus McGarvey’s photography plays an important role in the film as his pinpointed shots of the downtrodden and lost are poignant and lends credence to the proverbial “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

The movie heightens our awareness of their plight. Their misfortune should never be far removed from our conscience.

The problem with the story is that although we are fiercely rooting for Ayers to overcome his demons and fulfill his promising career, it never comes to pass.  However, if you want to hear incredible music (Ayers favoring Beethoven and the normal guy, Neil Diamond…interesting!)  and enjoy the finer points of interacting between two of America’s premier actors, you won’t be disappointed.

3 bagels out of 4

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