The Soloist

The Soloist

(M) Universal DVD

Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr) randomly meets homeless Julliard-trained cellist Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx). Lopez is desperate for a story and Ayers is desperate for a friend and a symbiotic relationship develops.

The Soloist — based on the book of the same name by Steve Lopez, is a film of beautiful moments. In one scene the camera scans over the chaos of the Lamp community for the homeless as Ayers describes the down-and-out as “angels” and “children of God” and recites the Lord’s Prayer.

In another scene Ayers drowns out the noise of a busy city tunnel, penetrating the hard-boiled exterior of Lopez, with a rendition of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15.

For Christians, there is much to ponder in this film. Graham Claydon, a harsh representation of the forceful and paternalistic approach adopted by some Christian traditions, causes Ayers’ undoing on more than one occasion. This is starkly contrasted with the Lamp community, which is Christ-based but in a much gentler and seemingly more authentic way.

The humility of God is powerfully depicted throughout the film — a God whose presence is felt most strongly in places of human desperation.

As with many film adaptations, The Soloist gives the impression of being a little undercooked and appears at times to lack depth, development and appropriate explanation.

For an adaptation, it is relatively short with concise dialogue and quick scenes — but does not oversimplify. In the last scene Lopez is dancing with Ayers and the other homeless people; beautiful and quite touching, it adds a final glow of optimism that is much needed in what is, at times, a difficult and confronting film.

Among discerning and concerned Christians this film should spark discussion about what the kingdom of God really looks like.

Megan Graham

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