In 2009, Joe Wright returned to the director's chair for his third feature film The Soloist, which saw him team up with both Robert Downey Jr and Jamie Foxx for the very first time.

The Soloist

The Soloist

The movie was based on the book The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez, which was inspired by the true story Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who developed schizophrenia and ended up homeless.

Susannah Grant - who wrote the script for Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes - adapted the book into a screenplay, Foxx took on the role or Ayers, and Downey Jr was on board as Lopez; a journalist working for the L.A. Times. Lopez befriends Ayers, while looking for a new article for the paper.

The Soloist may not have been the most popular of Wright's movies with the critics, but I thought it was a touching triumph with Downey Jr and Foxx both on top form - they really do work wonderfully together.

The story of Ayers was one that I knew nothing about and The Soloist really takes you into that word and strips back this man's struggles while showing off his undeniable talent.

Of course, Wright has to tackle the issue of mental illness but he does so with compassion, understanding and without any judgement. Wright is a director that really understands being understated and the film is all the better for not following the regular Hollywood formula.

There is something raw and real about The Soloist and it is a movie that never tries to do more than tell this interesting and incredible true story - no Hollywood glitz and glamour is needed to help the film pack a real emotional punch.

For me, it is the performances of Downey Jr and Foxx that really elevate this movie and make it an emotional and truly engaging watch. You can see Foxx has researched Ayers and the huge and devastating impact that schizophrenia can have on your life.

The main theme of The Soloist is friendship and Downey Jr and Foxx captures this in every moment of this film. The Soloist is about friendship and about friendship through the good and bad times; you are rooting from them from the minute you meet them and you want both of them to get their lives back on track.

Downey Jr and Foxx are two of the most talented and exciting actors working in Hollywood and I love the rapport that the two of them created between these wonderful characters; The Soloist is very much a character study and a human drama and it is in these types of movies where these two men thrive.

The Soloist is a touching and powerful movie and Wright has delivered a film that explores mental health in a respectful and a truthful way. Not only that, but Wright is not afraid to show the terrible way in which the homeless community in America are treated.

In no way does Wright romanticize the troubles and the struggles of both Lopez and Ayers - this is a story about flawed men who are just trying to find their way and I like that lack of gloss and Hollywood glamour.

The Soloist may not be the most well received of Wright's film but it is well worth a watch if you are a big fan of the filmmaker. Personally, I think it is one of his films that cannot be missed.

Pan is out now.


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