The Soloist (2009)


As I’ve said before in our Sound Bytes (video) podcasts, I don’t like movies based on true stories, particularly when they closely follow the real life events. I don’t care about “spoilers,” but I feel as if the natural flow of the story and the artistry is hindered by the boundaries of the source material’s reality.

That said, there is enough drama here to keep things interesting, although curiously enough this is a pretty basic by the numbers story, real or not. If you asked me to describe an overview of the film before having seen it, I could have nailed it. I may have been slightly off by saying that the homeless violinist performs a concerto at the end, which thankfully he didn’t, although it did come dangerously close.

So, yes, the story is about a reporter who runs into a schizophrenic homeless man with an immense musical talent. The reporter does a story about the guy, a follow-up, and soon they become friends. The writer begins to try and help the hobo while also sharing the experiences with the newspaper reading public of L.A., which I guess would consist of retirees and people who own birds (to line the bottom of the cages).

There were two highlights to this movie. One was the acting, even though I think both Downey Jr. and Foxx came uncomfortably close to phoning it in. The other was the avant garde scenes Joe Wright broke away from the humdrum conventional narrative devices of such a film and gave us something visually interesting. I prefer not to give it away, but essentially, when Foxx’s character hears music, rather than watching him listen, Wright goes off track and gets creative. It’s worth seeing the film just for that, and maybe really only for that.

If you like feel good stories, then knock yourself out. As for myself, having seen the movie, I’m not worse off, but I wouldn’t go back to do it again.

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