One trick I truly dislike when a movie is promoted is when the label ‘inspired by a true story’ is placed into a too visible place, especially when it comes to true stories and to characters which I could in theory at least meet on the street (well, on some streets). I am confused by mix of documentary and drama that are not frankly labeled as such but prefer to disguise in fiction movies resorting the ‘inspired by …’ label only when in artistic or credibility trouble, and I do not buy easily the theories about life exceeding melodrama. After all what counts for me in a film is the artistic truth, and there is a credibility of emotions and situations that does not necessarily go at the same pace as plain reality. For plain reality I have the real life, and I have TV news, Internet and written press. I am looking for something else when I watch a fiction movie.




One of the problems with The Soloist is that while director Joe Wright uses all the tools of the great studios films, the story does not gather neither enough ‘meat’ not enough ‘steam’ to sustain the whole film. The story of the Julliard drop-out who becomes a homeless to be accidentally discovered 30 years later by a LA Times reporter can make for a good article in the LA Times, or even a good series of articles or a book, but not for a whole film. One of the reasons is that the script writer does not seem to have fully investigated the case, or maybe decided not to bring the whole material to screen. I confess that I did not understand the reasons of Minnesota-born cellist Nathaniel Ayers leaving school – we have flashbacks that bring indications about childhood problems, some words about a big-handed father (maybe child abuse?), other flashbacks hint to racial pressure at Julliard or just the pressure any young artist experiences in such a competitive environment, and other words speak about his need for RESPECT – so what is the conclusion? The director does not let us know, or I did not get it.


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There are many artistic qualities in this film. First the superb acting of the two lead actors – Jamie Foxx is troubled and vulnerable and the efforts to break the wall of non-communication he built around himself make it to the viewer. Robert Downey Jr. provides the interior strength and the humanity to make us love his hero, and believe strongly that there must be a place for investigative journalism and its true heroes in our future lives. What causes The Soloist not to be the good film it aimed to become is the lack of decision in choosing the right tone while throwing away the overweight of moralization. While saying emphatically that it is based on the realities of our days, the film dares not adopt the documentary techniques, but emulates them using the traditional tools of Hollywood. It is just that good acting and splendid music are not enough in this case.