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The Soloist (2009)

PG-13  |   |  Biography, Drama, Music  |  24 April 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 42,654 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 142 user | 209 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

A Los Angeles journalist befriends a homeless Juilliard-trained musician, while looking for a new article for the paper.



(screenplay), (book)
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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Graham Claydon
Jennifer Ayers (as Lisagay Hamilton)
David Carter
Leslie Bloom
Curt Reynolds
Flo Ayers
Young Nathaniel
Kokayi Ampah ...
Bernie Carpenter
Paul Jr.
Marisa (as Susane E. Lee)
Mayor Villaraigosa
Harry Barnoff


In 2005, the only thing hurting Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez more than his face from a recent bike accident was his pressing need for story ideas. That is when he discovers Nathaniel Ayers, a mentally ill, homeless street musician who possesses extraordinary talent, even through his half-broken instruments. Inspired by his story, Lopez writes an acclaimed series of articles about Ayers and attempts to do more to help both him and the rest of the underclass of LA have a better life. However, Lopez's good intentions run headlong in the hard realities of the strength of Ayers' personal demons and the larger social injustices facing the homeless. Regardless, Lopez and Ayers must find a way to conquer their deepest anxieties and frustrations to hope for a brighter future for both of them. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


No one changes anything by playing it safe See more »


Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

24 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imagining Beethoven  »

Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,716,458 (USA) (24 April 2009)


£1,060,061 (UK) (9 October 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film makers shot on "skid row" in Los Angeles, which is known for being home to one of the largest stable populations of transient persons (homeless) in the United States. See more »


A utility truck is seen in the tunnel when Lopez and Nathaniel are talking. The utility truck was not there before Lopez stopped his car. See more »


[first lines]
Construction Worker: [greeting his co-workers] Buen dia, muchachos.
Steve Lopez: [narrating] "Points West" by Steve Lopez. A construction worker in Griffith Park heard the
Steve Lopez: [swerving his bicycle to avoid a raccoon] Hey!
Steve Lopez: [continuing narration] He saw a cyclist cartwheel off his bike and slam face-first into the unforgiving asphalt of Riverside Drive.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits, the music concludes with the sound of a cassette tape grinding to a stop, referencing Lopez's omnipresent recorder. See more »


References Fantasia (1940) See more »


I Want A Love I Can See
Written by Smokey Robinson (as William Robinson, Jr.)
Performed by The Temptations
Courtesy of Motown Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Interesting to know
26 April 2009 | by (France) – See all my reviews

I am a musician and live in France, where the release date of this movie is scheduled for Sept. 2 2009. I obviously cannot write a review at the present time but have nevertheless read the book.

What no one mentions in all of the above comments is that Nathaniel Ayers was originally a Double Bass student at Julliard and NOT a cellist. That instrument-- along with the violin, trumpet, and piano, all came about later on. Put any instrument into his hands and he'll do his best to master it.

Having attended Yale university, I did not know him personally, even though we studied with one of the greatest bass teachers in the New York area at that time: Homer Mensch. Recently our paths did finally cross thanks to one of our mutual acquaintances, bassist and composer Joe Russo. Nathan likes to write down the names of his long lost good friends on walls, or any writing surface, and Joe's name is always there, scribbled amongst his favorites. This was where Steve noticed Joe's name and Googled him to look up his website. A new and close friendship resulted between them, and the many anecdotes that Joe pulled out of Nathan's past were worth their weight in gold to Steve, enough to devote the entire chapter 8 of the book to Joe!

To me, reading this book made me come to the conclusion that every man has his hour in life, and Nathan's time had come now. The chances of 2 men, one homeless and one not, being pulled together through the sound of a violin in a rush hour tunnel, were undoubtedly written in the stars. Through articles, a book and now a film on Nathan, Steve helped uplift a poor and abandoned part of society to a rank that it never imagined nor asked for, but morally deserved. We all know that the Internet is indeed capable of connecting and reconnecting people in the present, but only music can magically, throughout time, open the doors that connect all of us to one another.

40 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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