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The Soloist (2009)


Average Rating: 5.9/10
Reviews Counted: 201
Fresh: 112
Rotten: 89

Critics Consensus: Though it features strong performances by its lead players, a lack of narrative focus prevents The Soloist from hitting its mark.

Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 49
Fresh: 32
Rotten: 17

Critics Consensus: Though it features strong performances by its lead players, a lack of narrative focus prevents The Soloist from hitting its mark.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 262,953


Movie Info

Columnist Steve Lopez is at a dead end. The newspaper business is in an uproar, his marriage to a fellow journalist has fallen apart and he can't entirely remember what he loved about his job in the first place. Then, one day, while walking through Los Angeles' Skid Row, he sees the mysterious bedraggled figure Nathaniel Ayers, pouring his soul into a two-stringed violin. At first, Lopez approaches Ayers as just another story idea in a city of millions. But as he begins to unearth the mystery of … More

PG-13 (for thematic elements, some drug use and language)
Musical & Performing Arts , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Susannah Grant
In Theaters:
Aug 4, 2009
Box Office:
Dreamworks/Paramount - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Soloist

All Critics (202) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (112) | Rotten (89) | DVD (17)

A deliriously imperfect film - and all the better for it.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

In the hands of a director more suited to the material The Soloist might have been a deeply moving experience. Here, we know something important is being played out before us, and there are times when it hits home with force. But in their exercise of dram

Full Review… | June 13, 2009
Top Critic

It feels like a puzzle with some significant pieces missing.

Full Review… | May 1, 2009
AV Club
Top Critic

Has its moments, but too heavy-handed and predictable.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
Top Critic

Tthis is a maudlin, stereotypical story that never moved at all.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

The film's biggest problem lies really in its pacing. Every time the plot takes an interesting turn or moves forward, it's stalled by one musical montage after another.

Full Review… | April 27, 2009
At the Movies
Top Critic

The subject matter is a little too easy to overdo for that, but it is pretty good, thanks to a pair of fine performances from its leads and a director who understands understatement. And sometimes those can be as rare to find as a genuine musical prodigy.

Full Review… | April 1, 2011

The Soloist never completely transcends that Hollywood formula feel, but it has enough transcendent moments to make it worth recommending.

Full Review… | January 26, 2011

There's no crescendo in Joe Wright's drama.

Full Review… | December 29, 2010

Develops the feel-good plot in true newspaper style: a few heart tugs followed by a punch in the face.

Full Review… | May 6, 2010
East Bay Express

Una película sobre periodismo y marginalidad, sobre el poder redentor del arte y la solidaridad humana, sostenida por dos buenas actuaciones de Jamie Foxx y Robert Downey Jr.

Full Review… | January 17, 2010
Uruguay Total

The music's as troubled as the subject matter

Full Review… | December 31, 2009

"The Soloist" is not a film in which you anticipate Robert Downey Jr. will be twice doused in urine. Such are the territorial markings of Joe Wright, whose directorial quirks undermine moving moments and committed performances in this musical biopic.

Full Review… | October 26, 2009

The two actors work beautifully together, playing characters who are angry and frustrated in their different ways, and sentimentality is kept firmly at bay.

Full Review… | October 15, 2009
Observer [UK]

Intelligent and uncompromising, with knock-out performances from Downey Jr. and Foxx.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Empire Magazine

The Soloist brings to life its story with genuine compassion, neatly avoiding many of the traps that afflict Hollywood films about mental illness. And Jamie Foxx's transformation will simply astound.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

Ultimately, the reason that The Soloist fails is because the writer and the director have been bamboozled by the seriousness of the subject matter.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Times [UK]

A handsomely made but tonally uncertain film; it's unsure whether to be an old-fashioned inspirational heartwarmer, or a paranoid prose-poem about ruined lives on the city's dangerous margins.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

The Soloist has its imperfections, but its ambition trumps them.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Daily Telegraph

Wright's major mistake is the flashback to Nathaniel's background. Mundane, TV movie simplistic and, ironically, very middle-class patronising, it causes the film's trajectory to go limp.

September 25, 2009
Little White Lies

The Soloist isn't the cringe-worthy Rain Man rip-off it might have been, but that's the only surprise this film has to offer. If it were a piece of music, it would be the kind you hear in a lift when you're stuck between floors...

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Digital Spy

Thankfully, there's no contrived Hollywood ending but you can't help thinking this is more a three-minute wonder than a dramatic symphony.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Sky Movies

Thanks to heavy-handed treatment, this true story ultimately feels like a work of mannered fiction.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Total Film

A rich cocktail of all Hollywood's most endemic clichés, it would be easy to apply to The Soloist that rebuking tag, 'Oscar bait'. Its every move is calculated to pleasure and provoke the liberal classes, if only gently.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

Foxx is an Oscar-winner thanks to his uncanny impersonation of Ray Charles in Ray, but he plays Ayers as a multitude of tics and non sequiturs. He is hampered by Susannah Grant's muddled screenplay.

Full Review… | September 25, 2009
Daily Mail [UK]

Audience Reviews for The Soloist


The Soloist was a huge disappointment for me as the trailer had made it look great. Okay, so Jamie Foxx's performance was very good and if Steve Lopez is as unlikable in real life as I suspect he is, Robert Downey Jr played him perfectly. The problem is that the film tries too hard to pull at the heart strings and in doing so it fails miserably. The film flicks clumsily between the present and the past and the characters never seem true to themselves and change without reason. The overall production is just plain lazy. A man's 20 year decent into mental illness is explored by merely shaking the camera for 5 minutes. Way to go Joe Wright! Also, we are supposed to be amazed by this talented 'Soloist' cellist but whenever he plays you hear a whole orchestra. Couldn't they have hired a profession cellist for the day? Don't get me started on the abysmally tasteless scenes with the homeless. Contrived nonsense written by an unlikable parasite of a man. Bitterly disappointing.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


Carried by two outstanding leading men (Downey Jr. and Foxx) this film celebrates the power of friendship without ever getting too sappy or unrealistic in its outlook on curing or dealing with mental illnesses. Next to the great performances, the fine camera work and direction make this an underrated drama with lots of memorable scenes. A little shocked not more people reacted positively to it.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer

I had low expectations for this movie, based on bad reviews, but in all, it wasn't that bad. The acting was solid - Robert Downey Jr. really is a talent, and Jamie Foxx embraced a challenging role - and the visual treatment was interesting, wandering away from the narrative in places just to throw in odd moments of beauty. The story is one you've heard a hundred times, but for a one-time watch, there's no reason this forgettable movie's any worse than the many like it that have come before. Nothing really original, but not a failure, either. I give it one big "Mmmmeh."

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

Okay film...

Jameson Worley

Super Reviewer

The Soloist Quotes

Steve Lopez:
I've never loved anything the way he loves music.
– Submitted by Claire F (2 years ago)

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