Directed by Joe Wright
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Jamie Foxx, Steven Root, Catherine Keener
I saw a news story about Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless musician, and his friendship with Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez. It was fascinating. So, would a film about this be as interesting? Or, would I just prefer seeing a documentary about the story? Let’s find out. The Soloist: Blu Ray was recently released on Blu Ray by Dreamworks.
Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) is a busy man. He is a writer for the Los Angeles Times, and he is trying to balance a career, an ex wife and all the other life responsibilities we all have.
Enter into Steve’s life Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). Steve discovers Nathaniel, a homeless man, playing a two stringed violin in the park one day. He is fascinated by him immediately. He talks to Nathaniel and discovers that he is a Julliard trained musician. It is Nathaniel’s struggles with schizophrenia and his overall mental health that made him drop out of school and live on the streets.
The two enter into an unusual and cautious friendship and Steve is inspired to chronicle the developing relationship in a series of articles in his paper. But, as life is unpredictable, who knows what lies ahead for both men?
The trailers for this movie were insufferable and poorly executed. If you were to judge this movie based on those, a viewer could feel that he was about to witness a Lifetime “never mind the acting, here is the message” type of film. The Soloist is definitely not that film.
The performances shine here. As expected, Robert Downey Jr. turns in another fine performance and Foxx continues to surprise film fans with his impressive emotional range as an actor. He holds his own in scenes with Downey, not a small feat.
Also noteworthy are the performances by the always fantastic Catherine Keener and fans of the HBO show True Blood, be on the lookout for a standout performance by Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette). I think he is an actor on the rise.
While only a few scenes might be a bit over dramatic, overall the story told resonates with emotional truth and the direction is tasteful and straightforward.
I found myself engrossed in the film and am very happy I didn’t just judge this film on the inadequate trailers.
So, this is one to definitely check out. Fans of Downey and Foxx will certainly enjoy their first rate performances and this nicely produced film.
Presented in anamorphic widescreen, the film is presented in a AVC incoded transfer. The transfer is first rate and wonderfully presented in the Blu Ray format. The overall image is highly detailed and vibrant. The black levels are highly respectable.
Presented in Dolby 5.1 True HD, the film has never sounded better. The dialogue is crystal clear and well mixed. There is nice usage of the speakers in a 5.1 environment.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
Presented in a standard amaray Blu Ray case, the artwork suits the film presented well.
Some nice bonus features await your perusal on this release. First up, an enjoyable and informative commentary with director Joe Wright is offered.
An Unlikely Friendship: Making the Soloist is a well produced making of feaurette. Kindness, Courtesy and Respect: Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez features the real men discusses their relationship and the film.
One Size Does Not All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles is a featurette about the homeless concerns in the city of angels. Julliard: The Education of Nathaniel Ayers delves into Ayers education and reveals that Grammy Winning Cellist Yo Yo Ma was a classmate of Ayers.
Rounding things out is an animated short about homelessness Beth’s Story, Deleted Scenes and the theatrical trailer.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10