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.