As much as I love film, and by this I mean put it before all personal and social development, and do so without believing this to be in any way wrong. There's something about music that affects you in a way nothing else can. It can be both blissfully brainless fun and a complicated, transformative experience that you have entirely no control over. There's no explaining as to the how but it manipulates mood and emotions in ways that no other art form, however precious it may be to me can compete with. For all its flaws, and The Soloist has many, it communicates both the simple and complex power of music in a way few other films, at least that I've seen, have managed to do.
The film tells the story of Nathaniel Ayers Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a street dwelling Cellist who's schizophrenia has destroyed everything about who he is except for his love for music. Robert Downey Jr plays a journalist who upon a chance encounter with Nathaniel, begins writing about him in his column, and thus begins a bizarrely tragic and arguably exploitative friendship between the two. First off, the best thing about this movie is a career best performance from Jamie Foxx, stronger then his Oscar winning performance, and sure it may be easier to barnstorm a performance when you playing an insane person. But this isn't just meaningless theatrics, its a complex and deeply moving portrayal that deserved a second Oscar nomination for Foxx. Downey Jr fares less well, and sure you're going to get acted of the screen against a performance this good, but Downey Jr always toes that delicate line between awesome and arrogant. Nine out of times he comes out the right side but this time sadly not. But he'll move on to Iron Man 2 without too many regrets I assume. Catherine Keener does well with limited screen time, a sentence that could describe a ridiculous amount of her performances. Director Joe Wright, who comes to this on the back of Pride and Prejudice and Atonement. A huge Keira Knightley double header. He's a little at odds with the material here, and tries to be stylish when he ought not, and pedestrian when he should be stylish. He doesn't ruin the movie, but its noticeable.
The movie works though on the back of Foxx's performance. It really is that good and it makes this film worth slightly more then the discarded bit of Oscar bait it had been labeled as by its studio.