The Soloist

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I just returned home from seeing The Soloist, which opened today and stars Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.  The film is based on the book The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez and has its roots in a true story that occurred and was documented by Lopez in Los Angeles.

Adam and I had seen the previews for the film several months ago and had been looking forward to seeing it, since our family shares such a love of music.  I want to encourage you to read the Bishops’ review of the film here and Decent Films’ review of the film here prior to making the decision about whether or not this is a film for your mature teens to view.  There were a few instances of bad language and a drug reference.  The reviews state that there were also adult themes, but somehow I didn’t spot them.  Perhaps that was because I was so engrossed in the beauty of the story, the gripping depictions of the actors, and the amazing music.  Adam and I were both very moved by the way the film did not shy away from showing the true face of homelessness and mental illness.  Many of the film’s extras are residents of Skid Row — no punches are pulled and it’s not prettied up.

There are a few things I didn’t especially like about the film.  First, there is a bit of “potty humor” that seems undignified for a film of this caliber.  Second, religion is not portrayed in a positive light in the film.  The only overtly religious character is a professional cellist who volunteers to take on the role of private teacher for Foxx’s character.  He is an over-the-top evangelical who casts Christians in a very negative light.  Foxx takes to calling Downey’s character, journalist Steve Lopez, his “god”.  Although the film has strong social justice leanings and an outright discussion of the concept of grace, the real “God” sadly does not have a place in the script.

Ultimately, The Soloist is a wonderful reminder that every human person, regardless of his or her life circumstances, is deserving of love and dignity.  I was very moved by the film and am now anxious to read The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music.  More importantly, however, the film reminds me not to be complacent about the plight of the homeless in my own community and to be more supportive of the tremendous work being done by our local Catholic Charities agency.

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

2 Comments

  1. I enjoyed the film but agree with your critique about the Christian character. I did however appreciate the atheist being made to look stupid too. Also – Steve Lopez attended the Christopher Awards ceremony last week because the book received an Award. Though I didn’t get the chance to talk with him, I have to say that Robert Downey Jr. captured his demeanor and mannerisms very well based on the little I saw of him.

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