- Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
- Theatrical Release Year: 2009
- US DVD Release Date: August 4, 2009
- Rated: PG-13 (for thematic elements, some drug use and language)
- Running Time: 116 minutes
- Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
- Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Movie: 3.5 out of 5
A chance encounter between a newspaper reporter and a homeless musical protege sets the stage for The Soloist, a docudrama set in Los Angeles that tells the story of two men and their journey towards friendship.
Robert Downey, Jr, plays Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, who happens to hear Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) beautifully playing a violin with only two strings. Lopez tries to start a conversation with Nathaniel, who begins speaking irrationally and in non-sequitors, but when he mentions that he attended Juliard, Lopez begins invstigating Nathaniel's background and begins writing a column about the musician. When an arthritic reader sends her prized cello to Lopez as a gift for Nathaniel, Lopez begins to see what life is like for the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles.
The performances by Foxx and Downey, Jr. (as well as supporting players Catherine Keener, Stephen Root, and the homeless residents of LAMP portraying themselves) are what elevate this film from becoming a television movie of the week, keeping the story interesting. Director Joe Wright (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement) tells the story in a mostly straightforward style, but there are some running gags about raccoons and coyote urine that just seem out of place here.
Video: 3 out of 5
The 2.35:1 anamorphic video is, for the most part, quite good, although the image can appear soft and flat. Overall the image has minimal compression artifacts and noise.
Audio: 4 out of 5
The Soloist is a dialogue-heavy film, but the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, encoded at 448 kbps, is expansive, with great fidelity and really soars during the music passages where the sound fills the room and recereates the sounds of Los Angeles traffic tunnels and music halls. Nathaniel's schizophrenic episodes also benefit from the immersive soundtack, with the voices coming from various individual speaker channels.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
Commentary by Director Joe Wright: At times sounding arrogant and snobbish, Wright discusses what attracted him to the story, how the movie was made, and his love of Neil Diamond.
An Unlikely Friendship: Making The Soloist: A 20 minute documentary, in anamorphic widescreen, higlighting the inspirations behind the movie and how the movie came to be, featuring interviews with Steve Lopez, screenwriter Susannah Grant, producers Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff, director Joe Wright, cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and actors Robert Downey, Jr.and Jamie Foxx.
Kindness, Courtesy, and Respect: Mr. Ayers + Mr. Lopez: A 5 minute interview with the real Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, in anamorphic video. The two discuss how they met and how they have continued to be friends.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles: As the title implies, this 10 minute piece takes a look at the homeless pandemic in one of the most wealthiest cities in the nation.
Beth's Story: A 2 minute animated PSA on homelessness.
Deleted Scenes: A series of 5 scenes from the cutting room floor, all in non-anamorphic widescreen.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
What could have easily devolved into a television movie of the week, The Soloist is an interesting docudrama backed by solid performances by its leading actors.