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Movie Review: The Soloist 

Real sincerity behind the twitchy, sardonic facade of Robert Downey Jr. helps sell The Soloist.

There is always real sincerity behind the twitchy, sardonic facade of Robert Downey Jr., and that helps sell The Soloist. Downey's character, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, writes about and befriends Jamie Foxx's Nathanial Anthony Ayres Jr., a homeless man with a gift for music. Downey's sincerity conveys the frustration of assisting someone like Ayres, who may not even want or need the help Lopez thinks he should get.

The Soloist asks interesting questions about the autonomy of the mentally ill and homeless, and what treatment will really help people who make a life on the streets. It questions what kinds of role a man like Lopez could play in the life of a man like Ayres and then wonders aloud if he's better off in the end.

The gooey message at the center of The Soloist is that simple, sustained friendship does more for a man like Ayres than any one grand gesture. It's a worthy moral and The Soloist, with its solid script, performances and sharp direction---Joe Wright finds poetry in the concrete pile of Los Angeles---is the ideal vessel for it.


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