Finally got around to watching The Soloist, now out on DVD, last weekend. I first read about Nathaniel Ayers (played by Jamie Foxx) and his story written by columnist Steve Lopez (played by Robert Downey Jr.) when it appeared in the LA Times a few years back, and was excited to hear that they were making it into a movie. I think this is the first contemporary movie that actually takes place prominently in downtown L.A. sans the Hollywood sign or Sunset Blvd. or anything even remotely celebrity-related.



Lopez’s “Points West” column covered the life of Ayers, once a promising violinist at Juilliard, now (at the time) homeless with schizophrenia in downtown’s Skid Row.



The movie was shot in a straightforward manner, kind of a rarity in film nowadays, but so beautifully composed and honest in its simplicity. Every visual shot of downtown plays out so poetically.


It’s an unfortunate reality of downtown to have a sizeable homeless population, and even more unfortunate that the sight is something you grow used to. Something I realized as I was watching the movie – it hurts to see what life is like for so many of my neighbors on the streets.


Even without the Hollywood ending, it’s still an inspiring story that needed to be told. The Points West archives are still available online to read, and The Soloist is also available as a book.