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The Soloist (2009)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 24 April 2009 (USA)
2:32 | Trailer

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



(screenplay), (book)
3,346 ( 335)
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


Life has a mind of its own 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)


$31,670,931 (USA) (3 July 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the scene that Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez attend a rehearsal concert, all the seats are covered with canvas. This was not cinematic imagery; this is actually done in some concert halls during rehearsals to reflect a more accurate sound as if the seats were being occupied. 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 Hawaii Five-O (1968) 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

A solid drama on a human scale
28 April 2009 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

After catching snippets of the lackluster reviews (two-stars in the Globe and Mail) I was dis-heartened. It's been a few months since I'd been moved by the trailer. However, the film never came out. I thought it might have been shelved.

I was glad to see it was indeed playing. In spite of the reviews, I persevered on the strength of the trailer. It seemed to me there was too much talent and pedigree involved for it to actually suck. And you know what? it's a terrific film with a poignant story. Perhaps lower expectations propped up my perceptions of it, however, it still stands as time well spent.

The film is based on a true story involving a top columnist at the LA Times, Steve Lopez, played with grace by Robert Downey Jr., who becomes invested in one of his more colourful subjects, Nathaniel Ayers, an accomplished musician overcome by mental illness, now living on the streets of LA portrayed by Jamie Foxx, who rambles his way to a convincing performance.

The film is a satisfying adult drama that doesn't lose it's direction. It doesn't pander to it's audience. There is no random violence, no guns, but indeed simply good story telling with great characterizations. It's a decent film that deserves better treatment in the press. It has a noble heart that succeeds in telling a great human story.

It resonates and strikes a chord.

67 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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How could you allow these mentally ill people on the streets? thanasaki_mtl
movie with best depiction of schizophrenia? eamo-1
One of the worst performances of 2009. brettjm3
What were the colorful lights Nathaniel sees at the rehearsal? cls-6
His playing heners
A sleeper film sophia7
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