Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Soloist: Foxx and Downey Give Oscar Worthy Performances

There are people that genuinely enjoy music. At the bus stop, at the gym working out, or enjoying a walk in the park you see them in their own personal iPod commercials. For them music is an optional element as they go about their day.

And then there are those of us that wish music could adopt us to quote rapper, Eric Sermon. For us music is an escape, a safe haven. Often with eyes closed, we loose ourselves in the rhythms, the melody, the distinctive sounds created by each instrument played by our own hands or someone else's.

In "The Soloist" brilliant musician and homeless LA resident, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) is a member of this distinct group. His life centers around creating beautiful music with a worn violin in downtown's Skid Row district. When LA Times writer, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey, Jr.) happens upon him near Beethoven's statue and hears Ayers play, within minutes the uninspired journalist realizes Ayers is a perfect subject of a great feature story.

The more Lopez unravels the unique layers of Ayer's life, the deeper he is pulled into his harsh world of street life and mental illness. But despite their obvious differences, a bond is formed between Ayers and Lopez that transcends that of reporter and interviewee that greatly impacts them both.

Thinking he can make life better for Ayers, Lopez uses his resources to get the engaging musician an apartment and some medical help. Unfortunately, the free spirit and schizophrenic mind of Ayers is not ready to be confined to one space nor examined by doctors. Learning to be the friend Ayers needs him to be, as opposed the friend Lopez' wants himself to be is the heart of their story.

Directed by Oscar nominated, Joe Wright ("Atonement"), "The Soloist" is undoubtedly a poignant portrayal of an uncanny friendship that I predict will achieve Academy Awards fame. It was literally shot in downtown's direful Skid Row and most of the people you see in the background of many scenes are it's real inhabitants, not actors. Creative license was utilized, however, in portraying certain family members of both Ayers and Lopez.

Overall, "The Soloist" is an amazing film of love, respect, and friendship between two men that seemingly are as far apart in character as east is to the west. Yet somehow they've managed to find a common ground that allows them to enjoy each other's company even today. Key to honestly portraying their unique relationship rest with the actors. And of course, Foxx's depiction of Ayers is stunning. How he is able to lose himself and totally go beyond mere impersonation to transformational is simply amazing. It is a total embodiment of the character.

And though Downey had nothing really to latch on to physically to portray Lopez, you get the sense he too moved beyond impersonation to give us a great understanding of how the friendship with Ayers ultimately changed Lopez's life. "The Soloist" open nationwide April 24th. Visit Solistmovie.com
to meet the real Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, get downloads, and more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was definately an oscar worthy performance given by both Downey and Foxx, but moreso by Foxx because of the spark he brought to the character he had to potray. In particular, the extremes that Ayers (FOXX) displayed when his mind forced him to re-enact the flashbacks he mentally experienced.