I just watched this on DVD over the weekend and the Soloist is very moving/sad story! It was released in 2009 and stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.
Synopsis (includes spoilers for ending)
The film is based on a true story about Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a musical prodigy who develops schizophrenia and becomes homeless, playing a violin on the streets. Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr), a columnist for the LA Times, comes across Ayers on the street and decides to write about him. Through his column, a woman sends Lopez her cello to give to Ayers. From there, Lopez and Ayers develop a struggling friendship, which leads Lopez to try to help Ayers by organising an apartment for him, music lessons and even a concert performance. However, Lopez’s attempts to ‘help’ Ayers eventually brings the two characters into conflict. What Lopez then realises is that he cannot cure Ayers of schizophrenia – all he can do is offer his friendship.
Related Text Potential:
This film obviously deals with experiences of ostracisation (not belonging) faced by the homeless and mentally ill. For example, there are the key scenes where Ayers first experiences schizophrenic episodes and everyone in the theatre seats disappear.
There is also the idea of belonging to place/objects. For example, Ayers is attached to his trolley cart, which contains all his belongings – he insists on dragging it around everywhere. You also see his sense of belonging to the road underpass Lopez first finds him.
There are also ideas of belonging to family and friends. Ayers and Lopez develop a strong friendship and Lopez and his sister are reunited at the end – these are the bonds, which give Ayers a sense of belonging to the world. There is also the sense of belonging between the mentally ill community at the Lamp. Despite all being ‘outsiders’, they form their own sense of community.
Standard English – Module A – Distinctively Visual
This could also work as a related text for Distinctively Visual. There are some key moments in the film, where visuals are used to convey a lot of meaning (see below for examples).
- the use of flashbacks to Ayers past
- the use of music
- the symbolism of the birds flying over the city
- the clothing/costumes that Ayers wears
- the myriad of techniques used to show Ayer’s perspective (his schizophrenic episodes)
- the symbolism of the raccoons
All the best, if you anyone chooses to use this text!