6.7/10
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153 user 212 critic

The Soloist (2009)

PG-13 | | Biography, Drama, Music | 24 April 2009 (USA)
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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

Several members of the L.A.M.P. Community, a housing and care center for the mentally ill, appeared in the film, and attended the Los Angeles premiere, and after-party. Nathaniel Ayers is a resident, and beneficiary, of L.A.M.P. See more »

Goofs

In the movie, Steve takes Nathaniel to listen to Beethoven's Third Symphony. In the DVD bonus material an interview with the real Nathaniel and Steve confirms that this took place, and that it was the Third Symphony. Reminiscing, the real Nathaniel then plays Steve an excerpt on his cello...except that he actually plays the second movement of Beethoven's better known Fifth Symphony - not the Third. 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 Jeopardy!: Episode #26.189 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Canción Mixteca
Written by José López Alavés (as Jose Lopez Alaves)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Music Menanced By Madness
3 May 2009 | by claygoul-1See all my reviews

Within a one-week period, I saw my second screening of this powerful movie today. I am mystified by some of the "bilious-type" reviews found here, seemingly driven by an anti-Joe Wright campaign. I found no cheap sentiments in the story line and I was awed by the high-octane performances of Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. Nothing being perfect in an imperfect world, as "adult" entertainment, "The Soloist" did not once insult my intelligence. I marveled at the complexity of the screenplay and the realization of it by its gifted director and the camera-work of Seamus McGarvey. The gifted Dario Marianelli is credited as the film's composer, anecdotally, in the gigantic shadow of Ludwig van Beethoven. Mental illness, genius, homelessness, journalism and music has rarely been so well presented as an "entertainment." Yes, Mr. Ayers is depicted as experiencing a "light show" when attending a rehearsal of the L. A. Philharmonic. At least we didn't see pink hippopotamus in tutus or dinosaurs on a rampage in a prehistoric setting. Being so accustomed to televised concerts, I expected the camera to focus on the instruments themselves in this sequence. And, "clapping pigeons." Great idea that works. A brave film directed at a "non-art house" audience. I also want to cite the wonderful work of Nelsan Ellis who plays David at LAMP. So much compassion comes off the screen with his presence. There is no way we can make "light" of the tragedy of the homeless, so many with mental illness. Thank you Mr. Steve Lopez for introducing me to Mr. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. My life is richer for the experience. LisaGay Hamilton, as Jennifer Ayers, Nathaniel's sister, deserves recognition in a small, but pivotal role that brings dignity and catharsis to a heart-wrenching experience.


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