The Soloist Review

30 05 2009

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done one of these, so it’s a good time to start again! The movie review is about The Soloist, if you couldn’t tell already, and will be there for you to read right…NOW!

When I look at my little DVD collection I have stashed in my room, at least 3/4 of the movies have guns in them and follow a simple formula:  Find the bad guy, stop the bad guy.  When a movie comes along that can change that formula even a little, it’s quite noteworthy.  However, this movie treads completely new ground.

In this movie there are no guns, hardly any cussing or violence, no nudity…and it’s not a comedy.  It’s actually a very serious film about a journalist from the LA Times named Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) meeting a homeless schizophrenic musician named Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx).  To keep the summary short and spoiler free, I’ll just say Lopez begins to write a story on Nathaniel, and they become connected.  Two people from very different worlds who begin to realize they’re not so different after all.

The acting in this film was top notch.  Robert Downey Jr. has always been a gem and fun to watch, and he certainly doesn’t stop that in this movie.  However, it is Jamie Foxx who truly shines.  Often when actors are trying to play someone with a mental illness, they take it over the top, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose, and it often gives the effect that they are making fun of the illness, or really have no idea what it’s like to have it.  There is no visible “trying” by Foxx here, watching his onscreen performance left me in awe.  You don’t have to be told the character is a schizophrenic, you just know as soon as you see him.  His reactions, his body language, the things he says, they all make a believable character that is not over the top in the slightest.

As I mentioned before, other than one see involving an angry Nathaniel, or a scuffle amongst homeless people, there really aren’t any scenes of violence in this film, and even the two I mentioned are quite small.  Though the formula change that most stood out to me was the ending.  It wasn’t a happy ending or a sad ending.  Instead, it was more of a “progress was made” sort of ending.  Both characters end with their lives a little better, yet they still hold their own problems.

I love it when movies take a chance like this and move away from what’s already been done.  Sure copying something good will most likely get you plenty of cash in the box office, but it’s a movie that will be quickly forgotten.  The Soloist, ladies and gentlemen, is not a movie you’ll soon forget.

Grade:  A



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