Movie preview: The Soloist

The Soloist is an engrossing story about Los Angeles journalist Steve Lopes, (played by Robert Downey, Jr)  who begins writing about  a schizophrenic  homeless musician (Jamie Foxx) living on Skid Row, and gradually becomes his friend.

Initially Lopez, whose own life is a bit of a mess,  flatters himself that he has all the solution to Ayers' problems. But he soon learns that there are no easy answers. As the two men get to know each other, Ayers shares his passion for Bach and Beethoven while  Lopez works to get him settled in an apartment and find him a safe environment in which to practice.

The film is adapted from Lopez's book: ‘The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship and the Redemptive Power of Music.’ Based on a series of columns about Ayers, the book won an award for its depiction of one motivated individual's impact on the lives of others. It is also a plea for treating people who have been marginalized with dignity.

Many of the extras in the film are actual homeless people from LA’s Lamp centre and other homeless projects. The lead performances are excellent. Director Joe Wright brings a British eye to photographing the city of Los Angeles and its streets with many aerial shots as well as in ground level detail.

A voice-over of Ayers earnestly reciting the Our Father as he and crowds of fellow street-dwellers,  bed down on the sidewalk for the night,  is very moving.

This latest film from director Joe Wright, who did such a perceptive job with last year's ‘Atonement,’ has just opened in cinemas across London.

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