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article imageOp-Ed: Movie Review: 'The Soloist' is art for art's sake

By Sitafa Harden     Apr 26, 2009 in Entertainment
I saw the movie "The Soloist" this weekend and walked away feeling like I'd just watched a documentary directed by Vincent Van Gogh.
Let me explain.
Beautiful music in this film is expected and the scores do not disappoint. The musical scenes are masterful (you know the kind where you close your eyes and get transported somewhere else). What is surprising and equally superb, though, is the cinematography.
The camera work and the literal on-screen art that accompanies some of the musical scenes is pretty amazing. It's deep, it's colorful, it's impressionistic, it almost makes up for the film's whole oversimplified altruism versus exploitation theme (think Unicef commercial meets CNN Special Report: Homelessness in America—the musical).
The movie is directed by Joe Wright (best known for directing Pride and Prejudice, 2005). It stars Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless musical savant, and Robert Downey, Jr. as the journalist who discovers him.
Both of their performances were more than adequate, but somehow neither were particularly riveting. I don't know. I guess I just didn't believe the characters enough. And the relationship between Nathaniel and the journalist, as well as both's tangential relationships, were a bit too easy and one dimensional.
To Journalists/Writers: If you've ever wondered whether the run-on sentences constantly racing through your mind as you write qualify you as certifiable, well be prepared to find your answer. Two hours of Downey's convoluted journalistic banter mixed with Nathaniel's rantings, and you might come away wondering just which one was supposed to be the schizophrenic. But hey, maybe that's the whole point. People are all the same. Right?
To the Movie's Director: Perhaps a little more back story (and a little less urine) would have been helpful.
To Moviegoers: I'm not feeling any Oscars in this film's future, but you never know. The Academy does tend to swoon for the artsy pieces. Go see it, but be sure to take a nap first.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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