After finally watching this film sans potty breaks, I got down to work on this review. I just had so much to say about it, seeing as Downey, Jr. is my favourite actor of the moment. Is there an Oscar nod in his future? I can’t say. But what I can say is that his performance here would take Pacino any day of the week. Hence follows my humble opinion.
So close. Sooooo close. I first had misgivings about this film when Paramount pushed back the release date from Oscar-friendly November to the no-man’s-land of April. Some of my misgivings were justified. Most were not. While the narrative thread is strong and well-told by Downey’s Lopez, it feels slightly choppy. The story’s arc gets lost in a few places, partly because of the directorial decision to insert flashbacks to Ayers’ (Foxx) childhood. It does give us a feel for his tumultuous past, but it also disrupts the story somewhat.
And speaking of Mr. Foxx, I must admit myself disappointed. I am Sam this is not. Though his delivery seems by-the-book Oscar-worthy, there’s no connection to his character, as if he’s holding it at arm’s length. Just going through the motions of what a paranoid schizophrenic might do. The direction doesn’t help, either. What was intented to be a Fantasia-like moment was really just an overly long eyesore. On the other side of the spectrum, Downey’s performance is a triumph. And I say that with as little bias as humanly possible for a fan like myself. Compared to Foxx’s slightly-overdone character, his understated, desperate portrayal is wonderful to watch. Besides this, the other strong point in the film is the gritty honesty of street life in LA and mental illness. It’s frightening and slightly disturbing, offering a nice contrast from Lopez’s professional lifestyle. While the melodrama does tend to creep into the script, especially near the end, those moments of immediacy and reality make it all worthwhile. So close to being great.
3 1/2 STARS
And that’s that. The latest and greatest RDJ film in my review books. With Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man 2 well underway, I look forward to spending some more time at my computer, completely geeking out.
Did you see The Soloist? Did this change your mind? Confirm what you had already suspected? Make you believe in my awesome power of judgement? Comment below!