The Soloist

A Review By Jason L. King

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Joe Wright
Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use and language.
Movie Released: 2009
IMDB Link

Final Grade: <

The Soloist is based on the true story of an LA Times writer, Steve Lopez (Downey) who finds and befriends a struggling street performer, Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx). At first Lopez looks to Nathaniel as nothing more than a good story, a way to get his column back on top. But over the year their friendship grows, Steve and Nathaniel deal with Nathaniel’s bouts with mental illness and friendship as well as his struggle to once again play at the level he once did at Julliard.

The Soloist came out running with good intentions, and even brought in a cast that I thought could do the job. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx bring some star power to the table, and the film seems to scream Oscar buzz even by the trailer. I was very saddened to find that the film did not live up to these expectations, or even come close for that matter.

I spent much of the movie trying to figure out why director Joe Wright felt the need to make this film seem so pretentious. We have multiple scenes we are forced to sit through with arial views of LA, with the music of a full orchestra only linked to the opening and closing notes of a crazy person’s street performance. Amidst that we have many poorly strung together, chopped up scenes that just didn’t flow well for me. Maybe the old saying “It got messed up in the editing room.” applies here, but the film felt jumbled and not quite complete.

One of the other things I found distracting is Robert Downey Jr. Perhaps it is just me, but I have a very hard time thinking Robert Downey Jr. wants to help anyone in the world aside from himself. Now don’t get me wrong, I love old Iron Man as much as you do; but is Tony Stark going to go an befriend an poorly dressed street performer with schizofrenia? I don’t think so. And if you thought Downey was acting in Iron Man, here’s a news flash: He was playing Robert Downey Jr. (it just so happens Tony Stark is Downey in comic book form). As for his counterpart in Jamie Foxx, I felt the performance was strong, very strong actually but the character gets old very fast. Nathaniel kind of wears out his welcome about 3/4 of the way through the film and by the end, I really don’t care how things end up.

I wanted to enjoy The Soloist and was really looking forward to watching a great drama. Instead, I just got another forgettable film that you should forget to rent.

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