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Tender times with The Soloist

The Soloist is exactly this, a well-made Inspiration Film that teeters on the edge of something more than shlockfest, but never fully crosses the line. Robert Downey Jr. doesn't disappoint, Catherine Keener gives her usual quality work as the snarky voice of reason, and Jamie Foxx amends his performance from Ray to play Nathanial Ayers, the schizophrenic musician who lives in L.A.'s Skid Row. The film brushes against topics generally ignored in similar films (the misguided push towards diagnosis and drugs as a cure-all for mental illness, the savior complex of the writer that originates in narcissism, etc.) and the depiction of Nathaniel's experience with the onset of his disease is compelling, but the movie never goes beyond the safe confines of the Inspiration genre, controlling the emotional narrative and telling us all when to laugh, gasp, and cry. But for a small taste of freeze-dried hope and triumph-of-the-human spirit, one could do worse.


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