When you think that somebody should live their life differently to reach their full potential, should you impose yourself on the person, or do you just be their friend and support their decision whatever route that they will take?
That is the premise of this movie which is based on a real life story of Nathaniel Ayers and Steve Lopez. Nathaniel Ayers is a gifted musician who was once a student of Juilliard – a prestigious school in New York. He had to drop out of school because of his battle with schizophrenia. Many years later, Steve Lopez, a journalist with the Los Angeles Times came across Ayers playing his two-stringed violin on the street of LA. The movie is about their friendship.
I enjoyed the movie and the message that it wanted to communicate. Jamie Foxx was excellent as Ayers and so was Robert Downey, Jr. as Steve Lopez. However, at the end, it was hard for me to be really impressed by the movie. It was like you go to a nice restaurant, with a great chef (Joe Wright was the director and his previous movie was Atonement), great meal, great ambience but the whole experience didn’t quite reach the mark. The Soloist felt disjointed at parts and it was as if the story wasn’t enough for a whole movie. That said, this movie is recommended for music lovers and just to see the chemistry between Foxx and Downey, Jr. There was a poignant quote at the end as well that certainly resonated well with me about unwavering belief.
“There are people who tell me I’ve helped him. Mental health experts who say that the simple act of being someone’s friend can change his brain chemistry, improve his functioning in the world. I can’t speak for Mr. Ayers in that regard. Maybe our friendship has helped him, but maybe not. I can, however, speak for myself. I can tell you that by witnessing Mr. Ayers’s courage, his humility, his faith in the power of his art, I’ve learned the dignity of being loyal to something you believe in. Of holding onto it, above all else. Of believing, without question, that it will carry you home. “
Even if your friend(s) do not lead a path that you don’t agree with, just being there as a friend is a great gift that you could ever give.
After the movie, I googled Ayers and Lopez and came across a 60 Minutes segment on their friendship – worth having a look indeed. Have a look at Nathaniel playing the trumpet and the cello as well. Ahhh, such emotions.