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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Soloist can be found here.
In part. The Soloist is based on a screenplay by American screenwriter Susannah Grant, who based her script on a series of articles about cello virtuoso Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (played by Jamie Foxx) that were written by columnist Steve Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.) and published in the Los Angeles Times between April and November 2005. [The series of articles can be read here]. Lopez has since published a book about Ayers, The Soloist: A Lost Dream, An Unlikely Friendship, And The Redemptive Power of Music, that was published in the spring of 2008 and from which Grant has also drawn material.
Nathaniel Anthony Ayers [b. 1951] is an gifted classical bassist, violinist, and cellist, one of the few Black Americans trained on scholarship at the Julliard School in New York, who lapsed into mental illness during his schooling and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Fighting his disease, he eventually moved to Los Angeles where he became a homeless musician playing broken-down violins and cellos on various street corners.
The burning car is a sign of Nathaniel's early descent into schizophrenia. At this point, he is escaping into the reality of his music because, every time he looks into the real world, he sees strange things (like burning cars) that scare him.
Steve is about to give up on trying to help Nathaniel, but Mary (Catherine Keener) convinces him that the best way he could 'help' Nathaniel is by just being his friend. Steve contacts Nathaniel's sister Flo (Lorraine Toussaint), who flies to LA and re-establishes contact with her brother at the LAMP Community. Nathaniel apologizes to Steve, and they re-establish their friendship. In the final scene, Nathaniel, Steve, Mary, and Flo attend a concert together. In a voiceover, Steve attests that his efforts have, at least, gotten Nathaniel off the streets, and describes how having Nathaniel as a friend has also impacted on his own life.
Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.
One Day Like This by Elbow.
No. While Jamie Foxx is a talented pianist (it is actually him playing in the titular role of Ray) his abilities do not extend to bow instruments. He did train with Los Angeles Philharmonic cellist Ben Hong on proper technique, but it is actually the assistant principal cellist Hong that you hear in the movie.
Viewers of The Soloist also recommending seeing the following movies, all of which depict aspects of sxhizophrenia: A Beautiful Mind (2001), Das weiße Rauschen [The White Noise] (2001), Clean, Shaven (1993), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and David and Lisa (1962).
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