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Soloist, The


Stars: Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey Jr, Catherine Keener, Tom Hollander, Rachael Harris, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Nelsan Ellis

Director: Joe Wright

Fascinated by a homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx), he encounters playing (with astonishing virtuosity) a two-string violin on a Los Angeles street, popular columnist Steve Lopez (Downey Jr) proceeds to write a series of articles about the man, discovering that he was a musical prodigy who dropped out, and that his original instrument was the cello.

As the nation becomes gripped by the story, people send in violins and cellos, one of which Lopez gives to Nathaniel. Becoming involved with the man, Lopez hopes in some way to improve his life. But it seems Nathaniel may be beyond redemption. His climb towards musical stardom ended when, as a a young Juilliard student, he began hearing voices, and his life in now blighted by schizophrenia.

A slow starter, this true story is potentially heartrending but, despite heavyweight performances from Foxx and Downey that dig deep into their characters, the film doesn't keep our interest more than off and on, as it struggles to put light and shade into a story which seems too slender to run towards two hours.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Unversal. Colour by deluxe.
117 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 19 Sep 2009