Thursday, August 13, 2009

Under 250 Words: The Soloist

Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx tackle mental illness and the decline of print media in director Joe Wright’s (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) The Soloist. Foxx plays Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted musician plagued by schizophrenia and sentenced to a life wandering the streets and tunnels of Los Angeles with his shopping cart. His performance is a stellar reminder of why he won an Oscar, it’s nuanced and precise until Wright restrains him with movie trickery that gives us a glimpse we could have gotten from the man himself. RDJ’s work here is solid as well, as he takes on the role of a conflicted columnist unsure of how to handle his budding entanglement with an unstable individual. Pedigree alone pushes the film towards Oscar bait territory, and while the story is involved and Wright (in trademark style) manages to glean something beautiful from a decrepit landscape, ultimately The Soloist doesn’t take the risks it needs to in order to rake in the awards. Something about the film and the way it approaches its subjects feels expected and canned, a little too much like a smartly paced human interest piece, but as a DVD/Blu-Ray rental, if you’re looking for a solid emotional drama, you can’t miss. Better than expected.

3.5 out of 5

The Soloist, dir. Joe Wright, Stars Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, Nelson Ellis, rated PG-13, Running time: 117

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