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The Soloist (2009)

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

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



(screenplay), (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 »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Jennifer Ayers (as Lisagay Hamilton)
Curt Reynolds
Flo Ayers
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


No one changes anything by playing it safe 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:




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Release Date:

24 April 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imagining Beethoven  »


Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,716,458, 26 April 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$31,670,931, 5 July 2009
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The scene (during the orchestra's performance of Beethoven) where Nathaniel imagines each color associated with a sound, refers to a neurological phenomenon called "Synesthesia", in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory, or cognitive pathway. It is known to have affected many popular musicians, painters and authors like Stevie Wonder, Van Gogh, and Vladimir Nabokov. See more »


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 »


[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 »


Referenced in Bastards of Dallas (2016) See more »


1st Cello Suite, Mvmt. I
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Ben Hong
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Lacked development....
9 September 2009 | by See all my reviews

Steve Lopez is a Los Angeles Times columnist in need of a decent story.One day he encounters,by chance, Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless schizophrenic street musician with an abundance of talent.Lopez writes a series of articles about Nathaniel and tries to help him, to improve his conditions of living and gives him a chance to showcase his talent however Nathaniel's disease has created demons that he can't ignore and Lopez sees most of his efforts frustrated...To be honest I was expecting a way better movie, I saw the trailer months ago and it got me excited, the movie seemed to have all the ingredients to be a success,plus two amazing actors, Robert Downey Jr as Lopez and Jammie Foxx as Nathaniel.However, I felt disappointed.Lopez struggle to reach to Nathaniel and his constant efforts to help him were interesting to watch but that is pretty much everything that happens in the movie.In the end almost everything looks the same as in the beginning and not much has happened.Sure, Lopez had a small yet positive impact on Nathaniel's life and he,himself, might have gained a little something from that relationship too but I was expecting a wider range of events so to speak...I'm not saying that he should have been cured by the end of the film, as much as Hollywood loves happy endings that would be unrealistic but I did expect something to happen...some kind of development that would make this story worth telling.It never came. Maybe this story(based on real events) just doesn't translate very well to the big screen.I think the film aspired to be great but felt short.On a more positive note, Jamie Foxx's performance was great and felt very authentic.


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