The Soloist is one of those films that many viewers completely neglect and don’t bother with during its run at the movie theater. A poor marketing effort from Paramount had a lot to do with this. I would have likely fallen into that category if someone hadn’t convinced me to go, but I have to say the publicity wasn’t quite there for most to see. Anyway, the film was surprisingly good and now that it is out on Blu-ray, let’s sees what treatment it has received.
The film is based on the true story of Steve Lopez, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and Nathaniel Ayers, a very gifted musician. The characters are portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers. Both actors provide a very solid performance. Downey’s portrayal of Steve Lopez starts out very arrogantly but as the film follows its course, the viewer discovers the nice side of him. Jamie Foxx really nails the portrayal of Nathaniel Ayers. This isn’t the typical role we are used to seeing Foxx play. He has no difficulty putting together the all over the place dialog and the all around action the character demands.
The story begins with Steve Lopez looking for a new story and while walking the streets of L.A., he stumbles upon Nathaniel, a now homeless man who pushes a shopping cart with all his belongings. He begins to ask questions and Nathaniel seems odd because of his all over the place speech. Steve finds out that Nathaniel is a very gift musician who was once a student in the most prestigious music school (Julliard) in the country. The flashbacks from Nathaniel’s past are quite fascinating as you see how the human mind can one day snap and completely take you into its darkest places.
Steve Lopez finds Nathaniel very intriguing; he decides to help him out. As the story unfolds, Steve not only helps Nathaniel but he discovers the “other side” of society. Steve visits the community called LAMP and he gets a first look into the poverty, the streets full of hunger, and the daily struggle of those most unfortunate who every day have to fight to survive. It’s a very striking sight.
The Soloist is a great drama, takes the viewer into the darkest places in the human mind and as mentioned before, offers solid performances from Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx. My only complaint is the lack of marketing that the film received. It could have potentially reached many more viewers, and received much more praise.
The video sports a 2.40:1 aspect ratio with an MPEG4-AVC video codec. The video transfer is impeccable. There is some film grain but this doesn’t take much away from the picture quality as the level of detail is very high. The colors aren’t over saturated. Inside and outside, everything shines in its own particular way. The close-up shots are magnificent. If you ask me you can easily point out every freckle on Foxx’s face. There really isn’t much to complain about with this video transfer. A very good transfer for a very good film.
You can’t have a reference video without having a reference audio; in this case The Soloist delivers. The film includes a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless audio track capable of pleasing its most demanding fans. The film has various sequences with the orchestra playing that surround the viewer with powerful fronts and rears, catching every ambient sound and making you feel like you are sitting right in the middle of the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. The utilization of every speaker during these sequences is key and they deliver an impeccable sound.A movie with such beautiful music couldn’t have received a better treatment in the audio department.
Let’s see what the studio included in this release.
• Audio Commentary – Director Joe Wright talks about the cast and the film locations.
• An Unlikely Friendship: Making ‘Soloist’ – This is a twenty (20) minute making of featurette. Personally I thought they could have added a bit more and that at the end it feels quite short.
• Kindness, Courtesy, and Respect: Mr. Ayers + Mr. Lopez – Fascinating glimpse at the real characters behind the film, a small taste of Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ayers real friendship.
• One Size Does Not Fit All: Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles – A small look into the LAMP community in L.A.
• Julliard: The Education of Nathaniel Ayers – This four minute featurette gives the viewers a taste of the education received by Nathaniel at the prestigious music school Julliard.
• Beth’s Story – An animated short with the sole purpose of sending you a message about those who are homeless.
• Deleted Scenes
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Soloist is very good drama, worth every penny. The video and audio on this release are nothing short of excellent. The viewer will enjoy the beautiful music and will find the story to be touching. The film deals with a lot of social and human issues. The story is well supplemented by a very good PQ and AQ that is sure to capture the imagination of the movie watcher. I was pleasantly surprised by the film and I highly recommend it.