The Soloist


Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. 90
    A triumphant movie about failure.
  2. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx are on fire in the lead roles: They're both charismatic as hell without sacrificing any of the emotional honesty necessary for you to believe that these movie stars are a scruffy reporter and a mentally ill musician.
  3. Mr. Wright and his colleagues have made a movie with a spaciousness of its own, a brave willingness to explore such mysteries of the mind and heart as the torture that madness can inflict, and the rapture that music can confer. Bravo to all concerned.
  4. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Intelligent and uncompromising, with knock-out performances from Downey Jr. and Foxx .
  5. It's all a bit shapeless, yet made with sincerity and taste, and the two actors seize your sympathy.
  6. The Soloist does have the courage to be true to the real Ayers' fate at last, after the exaggerations end. And the smart, hard-working Foxx and Downey ensure that their scenes all stay grittily honest.
  7. 75
    Downey gives a nervy, riveting performance in The Soloist.
  8. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Isn't so much a story of perseverance and musical triumph as it is of despair, acceptance, and social commitment. The movie's a call to arms: We are our brothers' keepers, it says, and our brothers are in terrible shape.
  9. Reviewed by: Rob Calvert
    The Soloist is based upon a true story, so it lacks some of the clichés that you might find in other made-up tales.
  10. 75
    In the end, The Soloist isn't about BIG MOMENTS, it's about the grace notes, the kind that stay with you.
  11. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Catherine Keener is also believable and sympathetic as Lopez's editor and former wife. But the film's power comes down to the strength of the two superb lead performances.
  12. Foxx is magnificent, taking a role that could be exorbitantly showy (actors playing the mentally disabled tend to forget the word "restraint") and turning in a performance that's controlled and mesmerizing.
  13. This kind of movie quickly falls apart if the actors overplay the inherent sadness of the situation, and thankfully the stellar cast never makes that mistake.
  14. The film works best when it focuses on the touching, crazymaking relationship between the two men.
  15. 70
    I don't know if Beethoven and a sympathetic newspaper reporter can redeem a messy American city, but this movie makes a plausible case for so fervent a dream.
  16. 70
    Hollywood loves the heroics of good intentions, but this movie is just as interested in the road to hell.
  17. 67
    You can't help but feel a connection to Downey and Foxx and, to a lesser degree, a rooting interest in the story. But try as Wright might, he never figures out a way to bring us in -- much less manipulate us -- cinematically.
  18. 63
    The Soloist has all the elements of an uplifting drama, except for the uplift.
  19. The tone of The Soloist is wildly uneven. Though unsparing and unsentimental when framing the principals, Wright is hyperbolic when depicting the agitation of the mentally ill and the soothing rapture of music.
  20. This is the story of a complicated and fraught friendship, and I'm not sure Wright and his collaborators figured out how much Hollywood baloney and how much naturalistic grunge to apply to it.
  21. 63
    The problem with The Soloist is that, while Wright shows admirable restraint in dramatizing the interaction between the two principals and does not fall into the trap of following a "movie of the week" formula about mental illness, there is little emotional resonance in the story.
  22. The film is imperfect, periodically if unsurprisingly sentimental, overly tidy and often very moving.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Has moments of power and imagination, but the overworked style and heavy socially conscious bent exude an off-putting sense of self-importance, making for a picture that's more of a chore than a pleasure to sit through.
  24. The movie is a noble enterprise, and Downey is stupendous as usual, but Joe Wright's direction is too slick to elicit much feeling.
  25. 50
    Foxx and Downey's disciplined duet come close to redeeming The Soloist from its visual excesses, but Wright leaves us with a parting shot of the dancing homeless that shamelessly exploits the very people he means to champion.
  26. With all the hallmarks of a prestige picture, chief among them a great cast and creative crew and an "important" message, The Soloist plays its tune with a frequently heavy hand.
  27. As a drama, The Soloist is stuck before it starts.
  28. 50
    Like the prototypical "Shine," this is a film that romanticizes mental illness.
  29. For all its sensitivity to the horrors of mental illness, The Soloist ends up as a fairly canned piece of work.
  30. 50
    The result feels cluttered, overcooked, and underfelt.
  31. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    It's a handsomely mounted spectacle with moments of bravura acting that nonetheless feels labored and dull.
  32. It's hard to talk about The Soloist without falling into cliches, because this well-meaning but ham-handed drama is full them.
  33. By consistently and relentlessly overplaying everything, by settling for standard easy emotions when singular and heartfelt was called for, by pushing forward when they should have pulled back, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Susannah Grant have made the story mean less, not more. Instead of enhancing The Soloist's appeal, they have come close to eliminating it.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 74 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 36
  2. Negative: 7 out of 36
  1. Sep 27, 2011
    The story might not know where the hell its going, but "The Soloist" at least succeeds in showing powerful performances of Jamie Foxx andThe story might not know where the hell its going, but "The Soloist" at least succeeds in showing powerful performances of Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. Full Review »
  2. Jan 26, 2011
    If not for the actors selling there roles The Soloist would have been a complete flop. Other than Foxx and Downey Jr. The Soloist has nothingIf not for the actors selling there roles The Soloist would have been a complete flop. Other than Foxx and Downey Jr. The Soloist has nothing going for it. The extremely unfocused film leaves its viewers wondering what the point of it was (Craziness has no cure? Homelessness is a personal choice? Homelessness is a problem everyone needs to be involved in? Classical music is under appreciated in society?)? The Soloist is slow and never really packs any sort of punch or sentimental moment and spends to much time building up a storyline with no real clear cut point, which is essential in a movie or better said character study such as this. Full Review »
  3. SusanS.
    Jan 17, 2010
    This is one of the best films I saw in 2009. I'm sorry it got so little reception and that most of the critics did not seem to know how This is one of the best films I saw in 2009. I'm sorry it got so little reception and that most of the critics did not seem to know how to handle it. Anyone who has worked, lived with or been close to someone with schizophrenia will probably be deeply moved by this movie. This is not a film of easy answers. But it's subject matter is not easy. It's not A Beautiful Mind or Shine, where the characters are suddenly transformed by the power of music or math or whatever. It deals with the reality of schizophrenia and homelessness, which are both terrifying, dizzying, and messy issues that cannot be solved with one helping hand and musical instrument. The acting, writing, and directing are amazing, as is the cinematography (the first sequence on skid row and an "internal" light show are particularly notable). I went into this film unsure about it, as the previews depicted it as one of those feel good inspirational stories, but was totally blown away. To think that films like Up in the Air and Avatar are stealing all the acclaim for 2009 and this film is getting left in the dust is heartbreaking. It's truly a masterpiece. Full Review »