by Guest Contributor Rebecca Linz
I was looking forward to “The Soloist” for two reasons: having played the violin all my life, I love those rare contemporary films that dare to explicitly appreciate classical music, but also because I am a sucker for based-on-a-true-story films.
The dynamic between the two protagonists (Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard-trained cellist turned homeless man suffering from what appears to be schizophrenia and Robert Downey Jr. as Steve Lopez, an L.A. Times reporter) evolves from a relationship between a potentially successful article topic and a struggling journalist into a mutual friendship. “I’ve never loved anything as much as he loves music,” Lopez muses in awe about his subject. Flashbacks into Ayers’s childhood reveal that his mental illness was probably always present but began to torment Ayers during his time at Julliard when he was a college student (which is a common age for symptoms of schizophrenia appear).
Among the voices that haunt Ayers’s mind is a woman telling him: “They’re white, heartless aren’t they? . . . Turn you white . . . Whiteness, whiteness, whiteness,” which not-too-subtlety reminds the viewers that Ayers is one of very few students of color (and the only African American student that we see) at Julliard. Continue reading