The Soloist

I enjoyed the film, The Soloist, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as reporter Steve Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Skid Row occupant Nathaniel Ayers, two of the finest contemporary male actors in film according to me. I am not a movie reviewer but I feel compelled to comment when a film is emotionally moving. My limited knowledge suggests that the film editing might have been better but I’m not quibbling over a good package deal here.

The immature science of psychology gets a good metaphorical slap to the back of the head in this movie, based on a book based on a true story. Ayers is apparently schizophrenic and lives on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles. Lopez is intrigued by the musical talent evident in the man, a Julliard School drop-out, and proceeds to try and help him. That help begins with the columnist Lopez writing stories about Ayers for the Los Angeles Times and progresses to trying to get Ayers performing formally. Then the trouble starts as more people try to intervene in his life. In the end a supporting character points out that the best help Lopez (Downey) could provide is to just maintain his friendship with the man.

And so it goes, by leaving an individual to his own choices, no matter how self-destructive they may be and no matter how non-ideal you may think they are, each finds happiness in his own way. The idea of forcing Ayers (Foxx) to take medication to deal with his mental illness is proposed and rejected. The two characters remain friends within the limits of their shared values. In this age when so many are so willing to tell so many more how to live their lives, and are willing to use force to accomplish the desired end, this film effectively, as only art can do, dispels such notions and gives me hope.

Copyright 2009 Edward Podritske

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