Box art for The Soloist

The Soloist


Academy Award® nominee Robert Downey Jr. and Academy Award® winner Jamie Foxx star in an extraordinary and inspiring true story of how a chance meeting can change a life.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 13
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
0 out of 5
3 out of 5

Memorable, sometimes gritty drama about music, friendship.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this stirring drama about friendship and the beauty of music depicts mental illness in a realistic light, neither overdramatizing nor underemphasizing it. Scenes that take place in L.A.'s gritty areas include some skirmishes and shots of drug use, and a dead body is found. The authentic feel of those scenes (which feature real-life Skid Row regulars) could be upsetting for sensitive viewers. But aside from that and some harsh language (including sparing use of "f--k"), the movie is age appropriate for teens -- there's no sex or blatant product placement.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what the film is trying to say. Why do you think the filmmaker lingered on the gritty Skid Row scenes? Is it to shock or to educate? Were you aware of the massive homeless problem L.A. faces?
  • How is this movie different from many other films set in L.A.?
  • Familiescan also discuss Steve and Nathaniel's relationship. At what point dothey become friends, and why?
  • The movie is based on a true story -- howaccurate do you think it is? Why might filmmakers decide to change somedetails in making a movie?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 29
    see all The Soloist reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: It took guts. And I suspect there's no sense in making a cautious film about Nathaniel Ayers.

- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle, Friday, April 24, 2009

Rotten: The film's biggest problem lies really in its pacing. Every time the plot takes an interesting turn or moves forward, it's stalled by one musical montage after another.

- Ben Lyons, At the Movies, Monday, April 27, 2009

Rotten: Tthis is a maudlin, stereotypical story that never moved at all.

- Ben Mankiewicz, At the Movies, Monday, April 27, 2009

Audience Reviews

3 stars

I had low expectations for this movie, based on bad reviews, but in all, it wasn't that bad. The acting was solid - Robert Downey Jr. really is a talent, and Jamie Foxx embraced a challenging role - and the visual treatment was interesting, wandering away from the narrative in places just to throw in odd moments of beauty. The story is one you've heard a hundred times, but for a one-time watch, there's no reason this forgettable movie's any worse than the many like it that have come before. Nothing really original, but not a failure, either. I give it one big "Mmmmeh."

- danperry17, Thursday, January 5, 2012

3 stars

Okay film...

- jamers2011, Sunday, December 25, 2011

1 star

The Soloist was a huge disappointment for me as the trailer had made it look great. Okay, so Jamie Foxx's performance was very good and if Steve Lopez is as unlikable in real life as I suspect he is, Robert Downey Jr played him perfectly. The problem is that the film tries too hard to pull at the heart strings and in doing so it fails miserably. The film flicks clumsily between the present and the past and the characters never seem true to themselves and change without reason. The overall production is just plain lazy. A man's 20 year decent into mental illness is explored by merely shaking the camera for 5 minutes. Way to go Joe Wright! Also, we are supposed to be amazed by this talented 'Soloist' cellist but whenever he plays you hear a whole orchestra. Couldn't they have hired a profession cellist for the day? Don't get me started on the abysmally tasteless scenes with the homeless. Contrived nonsense written by an unlikable parasite of a man. Bitterly disappointing.

- SirPant, Friday, August 22, 2014