The Soloist: Life Has a Mind of Its Own (2009)

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Biography, Drama, Music

Journalist Steve Lopez, who just suffered an accident, is trying to find a story that puts his life back on track. After stumbling into a conversation with a homeless musician, he starts to explore the life of Nathaniel Ayers. There is a mystery to this man who can make a two-stringed violin sound like the power of a symphony. While exploring the life of Nathaniel, he starts to learn more about his own shortcomings. As Nathaniel’s talent and mental state infiltrate Steve’s life, so do they change his heart and challenge his commitment to others.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr. (Steve Lopez), Jamie Foxx (Nathaniel Ayers), Catherine Keener (Mary Weston), Tom Hollander (Graham Claydon), LisaGay Hamilton (Jennifer Ayers), Nelsan Ellis (David Carter), Rachael Harris (Leslie Bloom), Stephen Root (Curt Reynolds)

The part of Steve Lopez is a less arrogant version of Robert Downey Jr.’s other recent roles. While there is that inherent good in this part, he also has more of a tendency to exhibit weakness, anger and frustration as he uses his relationship with Nathaniel to find a better version of himself. Jamie Foxx serves the role of the street symphonic artisan, showing signs of dementia in between his periods of musical genius. He portrays a break from reality mixed with a intense memorization and intelligence beyond compare in his musical abilities. Mary Weston, played by Catherine Keener, serves as Steve’s turbulent past love. At times, she exemplifies Steve’s lack of commitment to the world around him, while she also represents the past he is trying to escape.

Adapting the real Steve Lopez’s book about the true-life story, Susannah Grant adapted the tale into this feature heartwarming film. The interesting elements that come out of this story include the challenges of mental health issues, the failure of the LA community to provide for a population of homeless men and women and the damaged social work system which is unable to provide for people in need. Nathaniel did not originally go to LAMP because he wanted to, but he was met with an underfunded and understaffed organization in desperate need of resources to help their growing population of needy people. Steve consistently tried to work with the organization but was clearly concerned for the care Nathaniel would receive. This movie calls to attention the shortcomings of our public services almost to the same level as it does deliver the touching story of friendship between the film’s two main characters.

I thought this was a well done account of a heartwarming story. The political nature of the movie provides a depth that just adds to the enjoyable experience.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5


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