6.7/10
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155 user 214 critic

The Soloist (2009)

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A newspaper journalist discovers a homeless musical genius and tries to improve his situation.

Director:

Joe Wright

Writers:

Susannah Grant (screenplay), Steve Lopez (book)

Through the Lens of 'Darkest Hour' Director Joe Wright

See how director Joe Wright uses his signature tracking shots to set up a visual narrative for his films, including Atonement, The Soloist, and Hanna.

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1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamie Foxx ... Nathaniel Ayers
Robert Downey Jr. ... Steve Lopez
Catherine Keener ... Mary Weston
Tom Hollander ... Graham Claydon
LisaGay Hamilton ... Jennifer Ayers (as Lisagay Hamilton)
Nelsan Ellis ... David Carter
Rachael Harris ... Leslie Bloom
Stephen Root ... Curt Reynolds
Lorraine Toussaint ... Flo Ayers
Justin Martin ... Young Nathaniel
Kokayi Ampah ... Bernie Carpenter
Patrick Tatten ... Paul Jr.
Susane Lee ... Marisa (as Susane E. Lee)
Marcos De Silvas ... Mayor Villaraigosa
Ilia Volok ... 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:

No one changes anything by playing it safe 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 April 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Imagining Beethoven See more »

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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:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS

Color:

Color (DeLuxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the second time Robert Downey, Jr. has portrayed a real-life reporter. He previously portrayed San Francisco Chronicle reporter Paul Avery in Zodiac (2007). 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

Referenced in 60 Minutes: President Obama/Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132, Mvmt. 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

 
Wright, Downey and Foxx are good enough artists to lift this above its Oscar bait plot
26 April 2009 | by zetesSee all my reviews

This film was supposed to be a major competitor for the Oscars last year, but Paramount bumped it to a few months later. Despite the mixed reviews the film has received, I believe it would have been a major contender. I honestly think Paramount's decision not only ruined its chances for Oscars, it gave the impression that there was something wrong with the picture. There isn't, really. The subject matter does scream "Oscar Bait", with Robert Downey Jr. playing a newspaper columnist who writes about a schizophrenic genius musician (Jamie Foxx) who is homeless on the streets of L.A. We all remember Shine. Shine was pretty good (if entirely made up, as we later discovered). The Soloist is probably a little better. I think it's stronger because of its exploration of the relationship between the two central characters. Both Downey and Foxx are extremely good; both are award-worthy. This material could easily have been cheesy Oscar bait, but director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice and Atonement) is a virtuoso himself. The way he uses image and sound move the story along beautifully, not allowing the clichés to clog up the film.


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