The Soloist

Rated 4.0

Joe Wright’s film version of L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez’s story about his time with and writing about the Julliard-trained musician-turned-homeless man Nathanial Ayers (Jamie Foxx) does emotionally evocative work on three fronts: the way the relationship between two men changes each of them; the power music has to unify and to restore; and, most satisfyingly, the often sad and frightening life experience of those living with mental illness. Foxx’s turn as the variously emotionally detached, artistically impassioned and raging Ayers is pitch perfect. The movie star is hardly discernable behind the weathered sun-spotted skin of the professional homeless person, and his sweet-voiced non sequitur ramblings are seamless as his expressive turns at the violin and cello. The vehicle for this story is, of course, the man-on-the-street columnist Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.) who sees more than just an interesting story and a profile-in-homelessness in this homeless man he finds making music from two ratty strings of a violin. He also sees a man pushing the limits of the power of music by using it to deliver him from extraordinary difficulties, both internal and external. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated PG-13