'The Soloist' takes us on a journey into a world that most of us don't even care to think about, let alone enter. If we do think about the homeless it is as an annoyance, or a poverty issue, or a mental health issue. Rarely, if ever, do we see these people as individuals.
In this film, we are granted entry into their world through the unique friendship between columnist Steve Lopez and musician Nathaniel Ayers, whose extraordinary talent has been ravaged by mental illness. As he tries to help, Lopez is drawn into not only Ayers' life but the lives of others, less gifted but no less unique, who are on the streets because of addiction, mental illness, poverty, and a host of other reasons.
'The Soloist' pulls no punches and offers no easy solutions. Instead, it celebrates the simple humanity of reaching out a hand of friendship as an alternative to simply dropping change in a cup and walking away. That message, brought home through a pair of extraordinary performances, makes this film worth four and a half stars.
(Even Murray liked it!)