Saturday, 4 September 2010

Film Review: THE SOLOIST (2009)

Director: Joe Wright
Running time: 117 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

UK release date: 25th September 2009

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 4th September 2010.


I heard quite a few things about this film before seeing it, not all of it was good. Now I’ve watched it I can see why. It’s based on a true story from a book written by journalist Steve Lopez who is portrayed in the film by Robert Downey Jr. He has a column on the L.A. Times where he writes about characters he meets on the streets.

Out cycling one day, journalist Steve Lopez comes off his bicycle and ends up in hospital. Whilst recovering from his injuries he hears a violin being played. He eventually finds a down-and-out man playing a two-string violin. They get talking and the man, Nathaniel Ayers, tells him he went to Julliard, which is at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. Lopez checks up on Nathaniel’s story and discovers that he started there, but never graduated, his speciality was the cello. It is clear to Steve that Nathaniel is a schizophrenic, but he refuses to accept any help. After writing his first article, a reader sends Steve an old cello that she can no longer play due to rheumatism. Steve takes it to Nathaniel but tells him he cannot keep it on the street, instead he can play it at the LAMP homeless shelter. Allowing Nathaniel to play it one time in the street, Steve is really moved and realises just how good a musician he is and how much he loves to play. The film then goes on to tell us more about the backgrounds of both Nathaniel and Steve and how a friendship grows between them. How Nathaniel developed his love for music and how his schizophrenia affected his career. We also learn about the past relationship Steve had with his boss, Mary Weston. But I’ll end my short synopsis here, don’t want to give too much away.

As you can probably tell from my short synopsis not a lot really happens in this film, and that’s the problem with it. I found it very hard to gain any empathy for any of the characters and so, to me, it all felt a bit flat. The performances from both Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers and Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez were fine, but the material just didn’t work. I should also give honourable mentions to; Catherine Keener as Mary Weston, Tom Hollander as Graham Claydon, Lisa Gay Hamilton as Jennifer Ayers and Nelsan Ellis as David Carter.

Over all this was quite a disappointment, I thought it would have been better than it was. The cinematography was fine, the performances were fine but it was all let down by a rather poorly put together script (IMO). So I’m afraid this was not a film for me and I can’t really recommend it to you.

My score: 5.3/10

IMDb Site:
Official Site:

No comments: