Could Have Been Better

“Hotshots” looks at a movie!

The Soloist - Movie PosterTHE SOLOIST is based on a true story, and yet it comes across as if the filmmakers weren’t exactly sure where they wanted the focus to be.

It stars Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers and Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez, two men whose lives change dramatically when they meet each other and become friends.

Lopez is a columnist for THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, and one day he encounters Ayers in a park playing beautiful music on a violin that has only two strings.

Lopez thinks that Ayers could be the subject of an interesting column, writing “violin guy” in his notebook for ideas, and he begins finding out all he can about this homeless man with amazing musical talent.

He learns that Ayers had been a student at the Juilliard School of Music, but had dropped out before graduating. And when he tracks down the sister of Ayers in Cleveland, she asks him why he is interested in her brother, and Lopez says, “Everyone has a story, and it’s interesting.”

The sister tells Lopez that Nathaniel had become fascinated with music when he was a young boy and after that there was no more football, no more baseball, just music. She says, “That was all he did, just music.”

We see flashbacks to when Ayers was a kid that show his fascination and also to when he arrived in New York City to attend Juilliard, which also give us an indication as to why he dropped out before graduating.

Lopez begins writing some columns about Ayers, which cause one reader to send him a cello that she can’t play anymore to give to Ayers, because the cello was his first instrument of choice.

Lopez involves himself even more into the homeless man’s life, managing to obtain an apartment for Ayers, cello lessons for the first time in three decades, and even to arrange for Ayers to attend a rehearsal for a Beethoven concert.

However, things don’t always go the way Lopez plans them, and the relationship between Ayers and Lopez takes a turn for the worse.

Because we see so many details of Lopez’s life at home and at the office, we begin to wonder if the filmmakers wanted to tell the story about Lopez or about Ayers.

THE SOLOIST is good, but could have been better.

I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”