Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Soloist

Joe Wright's "The Soloist" adapts a book by Steve Lopez that chronicles his relationship with Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, Jr., who's a multi-musician who went from good talents to being homeless because of his unstable mental state. It has some interesting sequences from inside the mind of Ayers as well as dealing with his love of classical music, but it doesn't really work as it should. While it meanders, there's small moments of beauty, but that's not enough to save the film from its boring stretches among other things.

Robert Downey, Jr. plays Steve Lopez as an easily bored LA Times reporter, hard-drinking (a character trait that occupies all of about 30 seconds), raccoon-pursuing, and writing a column titled "Points West." While walking past a statue of Beethoven, he finds Ayers, who's playing a two-stringed violin, which I believe attracts Lopez's attention. Jamie Foxx plays Ayers in a performance that is good for the same reason I disliked it: even though it's clear that he's mentally unbalanced, it's still depressing to see him not take advantage of what people have and are giving him. But I guess that's talking more of Ayers than Foxx's acting, and speaking less about what he can control and more about what is expected of him. Anyways, I was frustrated, but perhaps that was the effect trying to be projected. What I'm saying is, it's kind of hard to take after a while of Foxx's repeated Lucky-esque mumblings which probably could be attributed to his mental state. But then again, if I were hearing many voices in my head, I probably would be doing the same. But this a review of the film, not an analysis of Ayers' psychology. On the film, I didn't really care for it all that much, especially the sections involving Lopez, which are dry and bland.

The film has some interest, what with the musical sequences as well as some other things, but not enough to keep the viewer fully hooked and not occupied by something else. I don't know really what to say other than that there are much better movies to be seen now instead of this one. Foxx is good in his role, yes, but perhaps there could be a little more other than just him to focus on. As I think other people said, I guess Downey, Jr. is newspapermanish enough for the role (since he was in David Fincher's "Zodiac") and I guess supplies wry humanity, but then again, maybe the movie would have worked better with a different actor. Not to say that he's all bad, but he's just a little boring, and inhibits the film from success. For Wright, think about those music segments and go much farther. What I was expecting was something more music-oriented than what was there. It's not so much the relationship between the two that's interesting, it's the musical aspects. But judging from how Lopez doesn't seem to be paying any attention to any of the musical performances in the film, I think I may be the only one. C+

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