6.7/10
46,169
151 user 209 critic

The Soloist (2009)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 24 April 2009 (USA)
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ON DISC
A newspaper journalist discovers a homeless musical genius and tries to improve his situation.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
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Popularity
2,730 ( 2,616)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jennifer Ayers (as Lisagay Hamilton)
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Curt Reynolds
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Flo Ayers
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Bernie Carpenter
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Paul Jr.
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Marisa (as Susane E. Lee)
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Mayor Villaraigosa
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Harry Barnoff
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Life has a mind of its own See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

24 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imagining Beethoven  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,716,458, 26 April 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$31,670,931, 5 July 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

(DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the homeless people shown in the film, are actually homeless. See more »

Goofs

In his commentary during the scene when Lopez meets Ayers in the tunnel, director Joe Wright admits that the traffic is all vehicles from the production going around and around (at approx. 17:30). Just after he says that (between 17:35 and 17:59), several vehicles in the background of the shot are indeed visible, though out of focus, making u-turns one after another. See more »

Quotes

[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.
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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 »

Connections

References Hawaii Five-O (1968) See more »

Soundtracks

Symphony No. 3 (Eroica), Op. 55, Mvmt. I, II and III
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
Adapted by Dario Marianelli
Performed by The Los Angeles Philharmonic
Conducted by Benjamin Wallfisch
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Uplifting: Finding a Golden Needle in the Haystack of Urban Blight
23 April 2009 | by See all my reviews

First off, I should say that I am personally familiar with this story, having worked in downtown L.A. for the last 19 years and seeing Mr Ayers and his cello many a time around 3rd and Hill Sts. I've also read Lopez's columns in the Times for years and followed this one with interest and satisfaction. Making a film about a tale like this restores my belief in Hollywood beyond the mindless bunk it churns out year after year.

Downey Jr and Foxx play a newspaper columnist and homeless man who come together in a most unusual way. Downey is a newspaper columnist looking for something original and interesting to write about. He finds it when he sees Foxx beautifully playing battered stringed instruments along 3rd street in downtown L.A. Foxx has been there for years but on this day grabs the eye of the columnist because the columnist himself is experiencing hardship and doubt related to his own position. He begins to write about this talented but troubled man who fills the stinky air around him with harmony. They become friends but keep in mind this is not fiction. The friendship hits many bumps that continue to this day. Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx's character) may be a brilliant, educated musician, but he suffers from bouts of schizophrenia that manifest at any time. Downey's character accepts this as it adds more intrigue to his columns. Then he accepts it on a personal level. Their friendship ultimately becomes real and meaningful. You sense that Downey's character needs the friendship even more than Foxx's homeless man does. In the end, Downey's Lopez can see the positive effect his work has brought to the plight of the homeless, yet he wonders personally how much better he has made Nathaniel...? His reflections make us think also.

Downey Jr and Foxx play their characters to near perfection and the film masterfully takes its time in developing the relationship between the two. Great to see director Joe Wright telling a contemporary tale just as effectively as he has in previous works. The film makes us wonder how many other Nathaniel Ayers are lurking out there on the streets? Life being what it is, of course we will never know. The beauty of the film is that is shows what can happen when just one Nathaniel Ayers is found after being lost for so many years. There's no sugarcoating; Ayers doesn't magically get better and rejoin mainstream society. Instead, the mainstream accepts him for what he is and what he offers and begins integrating him as best it can. This film will certainly pop up at award time next year.


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