Friday, April 24, 2009

Review: The Soloist

The new movie "The Soloist" opens this weekend.
For those of you who may have missed it, here's my review:
The Soloist is based on the book by former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez and the book is based on a series of columns that Lopez wrote for the Los Angeles Times.
Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, The Soloist is about the friendship between two outcasts -- one just happens to be a journalist and the other just happens to be a homeless, schizophrenic, classical musician who once studied at Julliard.
In that respect, The Soloist is a bromance; a guy love tale between two unlikely fellas. And Foxx and Downey give understated, nuanced performances: Foxx muttering, musing and drifting; Downey letting those great, dark, magical eyes do lots of the talking. Together, they sing a soulful song of longing.
And if that were the whole story it might work.
But The Soloist is also about the haves and the have nots and about urban alienation and the emptiness of modern life. And it's about the fear of commitment and an unwillingness to return home. At the same time it's about the death of newspapers amidst our continuing search for stories and sensationalism - a search that sometimes feeds exploitation. And whether it realizes it our not, the movie is also about the hypocrisy of politicians and the failure of modern liberalism and the disdain that most elites have for what they perceive to be uncouth.
And, as Ken Shear would say: "It's also about 110 minutes."
I wish I could report to you that those 110 minutes flew by. I wish.
The performances are great and the music is downright thrilling at times.
But this film is so soaked with urban ennui and so hopelessly existential that when it tries to find a moral or a theme or anything that might pass for an anchor it just turns, shrugs and moves on to another diversion.
And that's a shame because the problems and the struggles that the movie tries to tackle are real and worthy of our attention.
Give DreamWorks and the produces and everyone involved lots of credit for taking on the subject matter. And give the actors their do for several fine performances not the list of which is Catherine Keener as the editor/former wife.
Perhaps with careful and attentive marketing The Soloist (opening April 24) may find its audience.
BTW: In the film, Steve Lopez is portrayed as divorced. However, his real life counterpart remains happily married. Lopez said that while having himself portrayed as recently single in the film was a bit weird, it was much more important to him that the film makers captured the themes of his articles rather than absolute facts.


Kabir said...

Good writeup, recommend this movie to everyone. Loved it.

Nomad said...

i've heard the Soloist does a great job raising awareness about those who are homeless who might also happen to be mentally unstable; still don't know if i'll get to this while it's still in the theaters