Theatrical release poster with original release date
|Directed by||Joe Wright|
|Produced by||Gary Foster |
|Written by||Susannah Grant|
|Based on||The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music|
by Steve Lopez
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Edited by||Paul Tothill|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures (North America) |
Universal Pictures (international)
|Box office||$38.3 million|
The film is based on the true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who developed schizophrenia and became homeless. The screenplay by Susannah Grant is based on the book, The Soloist by Steve Lopez. Lopez (Downey), a Los Angeles Times columnist, discovers and writes about Ayers (Foxx) a cello prodigy who, after developing schizophrenia, now lives on the streets.
In 2005, Steve Lopez is a journalist working for the Los Angeles Times. He is divorced and now works for his ex-wife, Mary, an editor. A biking accident lands Lopez in a home
One day, he hears a violin being played beautifully. Investigating, he encounters Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man with schizophrenia, who is playing a violin when Lopez introduces himself. During the conversation that follows, Lopez learns that Ayers once attended Juilliard.
Curious as to how a former student of such a prestigious school ended up on the streets, Lopez contacts Juilliard but learns that no record of Ayers graduating from it exists. Though at first figuring a man with schizophrenia who's talented with a cello isn't worth his time, Lopez soon realizes that he has no better story to write about. Luckily, he soon learns that Ayers did attend Juilliard, but dropped out after two years.
Finding Ayers the next day, Lopez says he wants to write about him. Ayers doesn't appear to be paying attention. Getting nowhere, Lopez finds and contacts Ayers' sister, who gives the columnist the information he needs: Ayers was once a child prodigy with the cello, until he began displaying symptoms of schizophrenia at Juilliard. Unable to handle the voices, Ayers dropped out and ended up on the streets due to the delusion that his sister wanted to kill him. Without a cello, he has resorted to playing a two-string violin.
Lopez writes his article. One reader is so touched that she sends him a cello for Ayers. Lopez brings it to him and Ayers shows he is just as proficient as with a violin. Unfortunately, his tendency to wander puts both Ayers and the cello in danger, so Lopez talks him into leaving it at a shelter, located in a neighborhood of homeless people. Ayers is later seen playing for the homeless.
A concerned Lopez tries to get a doctor he knows to help. He also tries to talk Ayers into getting an apartment, but Ayers refuses. After seeing a reaction to music played at an opera house, Lopez persuades another friend, Graham, a cellist, to rehabilitate Ayers through music. The lessons go well, though Ayers is shown to be getting a little too attached to Lopez, much to the latter's annoyance. Lopez eventually talks Ayers into moving into an apartment by threatening to abandon him.
Through Lopez's article, Ayers gains so much fame that he is given the chance to perform a recital. Sadly, he loses his temper, attacks Graham, and leaves. This convinces Lopez's doctor friend to get Ayers help. But when Ayers learns what Lopez is up to, he throws Lopez out of his apartment and threatens to kill him.
While speaking with Mary, Lopez realizes that not only has he changed Ayers' life, but Ayers has changed him. Determined to make amends, Lopez brings Ayers' sister to L.A. for a visit. Ayers and Lopez make up. Later, while they all watch an orchestra, Lopez ponders how beneficial their friendship has been. Ayers still hears voices, but at least he no longer lives on the streets. In addition, Ayers has helped improve Lopez's relationship with his own family.
It is revealed at the end that Ayers is still a member of the LAMP Community - a Los Angeles nonprofit organization that seeks to help people living with severe mental illness - and that Lopez is learning how to play the guitar.
The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright, was written by Susannah Grant, based on a series of columns written by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who chronicled the plight of Nathaniel Ayers, Jr., a musician with schizophrenia, and eventually was chronicled in Lopez's book, The Soloist,[dead link] which was published in the spring of 2008. The film was budgeted at $60 million, twice the budget amount of Wright's previous film, Atonement. Production began in January 2008 and was filmed mostly in Los Angeles, with some scenes shot in Cleveland.
On its opening weekend, the film opened #4 behind Fighting, 17 Again, and Obsessed, grossing $9,715,000 in 2,024 theaters with a $4,800 average per theater. The film went on to only recover about half of its total budget bringing in $31,720,158. This was blamed on the film's initial release date being postponed, as well as the film's release coming one week before the 2009 summer movie season.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57%, based on 205 reviews, with an average score of 5.95/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though it features strong performances by its lead players, a lack of narrative focus prevents The Soloist from hitting its mark." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.
Reviewers generally praise the performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, but comment on the film's lack of narrative focus in attempting to tell a convincing or engaging story due to the somewhat "uneven" direction by director Joe Wright. Many felt that the project was a bit of a "mismatch" for Wright, and felt it was one of his weakest films to date, following the success of his adaptations of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "The Soloist has all the elements of an uplifting drama, except for the uplift. The story is compelling, the actors are in place, but I was never sure what the filmmakers wanted me to feel about it."
The soundtrack to The Soloist was released on April 21, 2009.
|1.||"Pershing Square"||Dario Marianelli||0:48|
|2.||"Crazy About Beethoven"||Dario Marianelli||2:01|
|3.||"Paper Mache World"||Dario Marianelli||1:33|
|4.||"A City Symphony"||Dario Marianelli||3:41|
|5.||"This Is My Apartment"||Dario Marianelli||1:54|
|6.||"There Is No Escape"||Dario Marianelli||1:36|
|7.||"Falling Apart"||Dario Marianelli||1:10|
|8.||"Four Billion Years"||Dario Marianelli||2:54|
|9.||"Nathaniel Breaks Down"||Dario Marianelli||5:31|
|10.||"Accordion Interlude"||Dario Marianelli||2:07|
|11.||"The Lord's Prayer"||Dario Marianelli||3:12|
|12.||"The Voices Within"||Dario Marianelli||2:09|
|14.||"Cello Lesson"||Dario Marianelli||2:27|
|15.||"Mr. Ayers And Mr. Lopez"||Dario Marianelli||11:10|