In 2005, LA Times writer Steve Lopez met Nathanial Ayers, a homeless musician living on Skid Row.
The Soloist is the story of that encounter, their lives and their friendship.
Every now and then, a film comes along that moves me to the point of no return. The Soloist is one of those stories.
For almost two hours, I literally sat on the edge of my seat as this magnificent story unfolded before my eyes. I laughed, I cried, I got angry, I applauded. So many emotions in such a short period of time!
For me, this was more than the movie itself. I'm a journalist. I understand how those special stories come along and how they affect your life. I can imagine the impact meeting Nathanial had on Steve Lopez and on his career. Newspaper reporting is such a different world. It's something that gets into your blood. You live it; you breath it; you sacrifice everything for it. But at the end of the day, when you are bone tired and don't think you can take the pressure any longer, something else comes along to make you grab that notepad and run out the door.
That's exactly how it started for Steve. He doesn't have to say it ... it's obvious. Here's a homeless man who can create sounds that would inspire even the most hardhearted. Yet, he's the only one who seems to hear it. It reaches down into his soul and he needs to know why -- why is this man on the streets and not on the concert stage?
Years ago, mental illness was locked away from society. These people lived behind the high walls of institutions designed to keep out even family members. Then, it was decided this treatment was inhumane and carried too high a price for the taxpayers. So, the institutions were done away with. The walls came down and thousands of the lost were displaced to the streets. The homeless population exploded overnight. Maybe it was better than being confined, but it also meant limited access to the help they needed.
The result was people like Nathanial, who for one reason or another, live under bridges, behind dumpsters, in dark alleys. And some, like Nathanial, are intelligent and talented, but their illnesses -- in his case, schizophrenia -- don't allow them to live a so-called normal life. And it's so much easier for the rest of society to ignore what's going on right under its nose.
But Nathanial meets Steve, who becomes a true friend and wants more than anything to help him. The trick is, he first has to learn how.
This movie is so inspiring. The storyline is very well done and the lead actors did a wonderful job in their roles. Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. should be commended for the outstanding work they did in this film.
To learn more about this movie, including viewing a trailer and listening to the words of the real-life Steve Lopez, visit the official Web site of The Soloist.
I definitely give this movie five reels.