Foxx and Downey terrific in The Soloist, just out on DVD

Just out on DVD, The Soloist is the story of how Nathaniel Anthony Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a Julliard-trained musician from Cleveland, Ohio, ended up living on the L.A. streets. The film opens with a scene in which L.A. Times reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey) crashes his bicycle while riding down a hill. It’s not clear what exactly this scene has to do with the rest of the film, but after undergoing medical treatment, he takes a cab home, throwing his bike in the trunk and heading back to his spacious apartment. He starts making notes to himself on a tape recorder as he’s trying to come up with an idea for his next article but while on a lunch break he has a chance encounter with Ayers, who’s playing violin in an atrium. The two hit it off, though Ayers doesn’t make a lot of sense as he rattles on and on about everything from his old Juilliard classmates to the cold Cleveland winters. British director Joe Wright (Atonement) gets terrific performances out of both Downey and Foxx and has meticulously crafted the movie, making an investment in the blu-ray version well worth it. Its dialogue-heavy script, however, is its weak point. Both Ayers and Lopez are articulate (each in his own way), but the addition of a voiceover (which sounds like excerpts from Lopez’ columns and/or his books) is really unnecessary. The movie underperformed at the box office but don’t hold that against it. Most of the film was shot in L.A. but scenes from Ayers childhood wee filmed in Cleveland, specifically in the Hough district where race riots took place in the ’60s. ***