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

Director:

Joe Wright

Writers:

Susannah Grant (screenplay), Steve Lopez (book)
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

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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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jamie Foxx had his teeth ground down for the role of Ayers. He says, "My teeth are just so big and white, a homeless person would never have them." See more »

Goofs

When Lopez leaves the Lamp facility after waiting for Ayers, he gets into his Saab and sees a prostitute walk in front of his car towards some people. She is seen clearly because of the reflection of his car headlights. When the scene changes back to the car, the headlights are not on. 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

Featured in The 81st Annual Academy Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Can The Circle Be Unbroken
Written by Ada R. Habershon and Charles Gabriel, often attributed to A.P. Carter
Performed by The Carter Family (as The Original Carter Family)
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony BMG Music Entertainment
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User Reviews

 
The Truth about Schizophrenia
12 May 2009 | by bw11See all my reviews

I sometimes work clinically with schizophrenics. This film shows us the truth about working with severely mentally ill people. David, the man who runs the shelter for the homeless honestly spoke the truth with his stance that is opposite of what the Pharmaceutical Industry, most of psychiatry and the legal system try to make us believe. David was my hero in this movie.

All though the movie goes quickly over Jamie Fox's childhood trauma and losses -- it's still there, i.e. no father and the truck on fire represent some of the traumas that created his illness. Homeless people with mental illness did not come from healthy childhoods. Almost all came from repeated childhood trauma.(see New Zealand Psychologist John Read PhD and colleagues, the ACE Study from the CDC, and Charles Whitfield's book The Truth about Mental Illness, 2004).

Hollywood did not cover over the painful truths in this story. Jamie Fox's character's mother and his sister were good people and that comes through but they couldn't prevent his wounding. At the end of the film, we are told "90,000 Homeless people in Los Angeles." We walked out of the theater overwhelmed with that figure and uplifted by this true story.

If you're really interested in the truth about schizophrenia there is an excellent DVD documentary called Take These Broken Wings: Recover from Schizophrenia without Medication by Daniel Mackler


57 of 77 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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Frequently Asked Questions

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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

Gross USA:

$31,720,158

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$38,332,994
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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