Downey Jr. and Foxx inspire hope in The Soloist

The Soloist is tailored from the memories of L.A. Times writer Steve Lopez placed in his book about his friendship with Nathaniel Anthony Ayers.

Looking to chronicle the life and musical gift of Ayers, a homeless virtuoso, Lopez brings to light the personal hardships this man has suffered, and then charges himself to support Ayers’ gift and bring the man back to normalized society. But how can a man fix a person?

This question constantly came to my mind when Ayers, a man whose professional future was struck down by his schizophrenic mind, was on screen. Ayers kept finding the social help from Lopez more and more difficult to cope with as it became forced upon him.

Always pressed to the brink before finally accepting, Ayers strums the melancholy note of mental health to strike a chord with the audience. Noticing what he goes through and accepting the situation brings courage.

This movie is quite touching, and by being presented in a most beautiful manner, the film gracefully demands the audience to feel humanity towards the tribulations of these men’s friendship and the situation of all less fortunate people. I felt personal growth blossoming as Lopez also comes to realize the answer at the film’s conclusion.

Keystone to my entertainment from The Soloist is the remarkable performances of Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers and Robert Downey Jr. portraying Steve Lopez. Jamie Foxx, though it may be considered humorous that he branched out from a physically handicapped musician to a mentally handicapped musician, somehow adapts a very trying persona and interesting verbalization with such talent.

Also holding more than his own, Robert Downey Jr. is a man who tries to do right in journalism. He may not be a humanitarian, but when his interest in Ayers is peaked as a journalistic topic, he shows no hesitation to not only become acquainted with but also dive into helping this man. Although these stars were regularly the only people on screen, I found it to be in great taste, as these one-on-ones were absolutely perfect.

Although this film was my first occasion to see the talent of director Joe Wright, I must say I was impressed with his vision. He was able to artistically capture many emotions.

My personal favorites were his approach to derangement or apprehension and his view of synesthesia. In the first case, quick-paced changes of point of view were used to great effect, mimicking the rapid waves of inner thoughts of the subject. The centering of the camera on a visual representation of the inner mental stress of a breakdown was also putting a fine point on the moment.

His representation of synesthesia was incredibly Kubric-esque, harking to memories of Dave’s gaze into the obelisk. There were even well-crafted flashbacks that not only captured Ayers’ past but presented them in a manner that related them to the present issue. I had begun to tire of other directors’ lack of imagination in their trite use of flashbacks as merely exposition. This has been by far the best theater experience I have witnessed this year.

I frankly enjoyed every depressing, heart-wrenching, feel-good and exciting moment. The Soloist represents a winning formula – great actors, a dramatic plot and a director able to gather together this prime clay into a well-crafted pot.

It is not a movie for those that wish for summer fun and action. It is a movie that does it’s best to delve a bit deeper into human limitations and abilities.

We may not be able to fix another person, but with friendship we can help him through the tough times and maybe, just maybe, change his life for the better.