Simply by seeing Jamie Foxx sing his hit song “Blame It” on American Idol, you wouldn’t know that he is an incredibly talented actor. Foxx stars in the touching film The Soloist with Robert Downey Jr. Steve Lopez (Downey Jr.) is an LA Times reporter who befriends Nathaniel Ayers (Foxx), a homeless, schizophrenic who happens to be a talented musician. The film is directed by Joe Wright of Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, two of my favorite movies, so I had great expectations. Thankfully I was not disappointed.
The film begins with the divorced Lopez down on his luck after getting in a bike accident. He meets Ayers playing a two-stringed violin at the foot of a Beethoven statue in Los Angeles. Needing a story, Lopez is intrigued by him after finding out that he attended Julliard for two years.
Lopez gathers enough information to write his column, and a kind reader gives Ayers her cello. Lopez will allow Ayers to have the instrument on one condition – he move to LAMP, a homeless shelter, to get off the street. Ayers is so grateful for the cello that it brings you to tears, but he is somewhat reluctant to move.
Lopez’s and Ayers’ friendship continues to grow. Lopez tries to help cure him of his mental illness, so that his musical ability can be fully realized. He later learns that he can’t cure him, and that being a friend is the greatest gift he can give.
The way to recognize a good actor is to genuinely believe that he or she is the character they are portraying. Foxx becomes Ayers in every sense even beyond the balding hair and wild clothing that greatly changes his appearance.
I recently heard that Lopez and Ayers still talk on the phone twice a day. It's truly heartbreaking to know that there are almost 100,000 homeless people living in L.A. like Ayers.