The Soloist (2009)


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


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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 how this alternately brilliant and distracted street musician, once a dynamic prodigy headed for fame, wound up living in tunnels and doorways, it sparks an unexpected quest. Imagining he can change Ayers' life, Lopez embarks on a quixotic mission to get him off the streets and back to the world of music. But even as he fights to save Ayers' life, he begins to see that it is Ayers--with his unsinkable passion, his freedom-loving obstinacy and his valiant attempts at connection and love--who is profoundly changing Lopez.

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Jamie Foxx
as Nathaniel Anthony Ayers
Robert Downey Jr.
as Steve Lopez
Tom Hollander
as Graham Claydon
Catherine Keener
as Mary Weston
Lisa Gay Hamilton
as Jennifer Ayers-Moore
Stephen Root
as Curt Reynolds
Nelsan Ellis
as David Carter
Jena Malone
as Lab Technician
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Critic Reviews for The Soloist

All Critics (205) | Top Critics (47)

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

Sep 25, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
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

Jun 13, 2009 | Full Review…

It feels like a puzzle with some significant pieces missing.

May 1, 2009 | Rating: C
AV Club
Top Critic

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

Apr 27, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

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

Apr 27, 2009

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.

Apr 27, 2009 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Soloist


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.
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
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

Okay film...

Jameson Worley
Jameson Worley

Super Reviewer

This was a good movie, but not great. The Soloist is about Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a schitzophrenic musical prodigy, and Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) a writer who becomes friends with Nathaniel and tries to make him the muscician he's meant to be. The plot is okay, it mostly just another movie trying to inspire us. The cast is the best part, Foxx and Downey are amazing andwere superb in the film. They did a good job on this film, but its very slow and predictable, and couldve been better.

Jim Careter
Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

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