Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & The Soloist & r & by Steve Lopez & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "T & lt;/span & he book was better." Moviegoers are always saying that.





Back in 2005, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez wrote a series of stories about a homeless man who turned out to possess orchestra-level talent on several stringed instruments.





Lopez turned his columns into The Soloist -- and now it's being turned into a movie (an early Oscar contender, no less, to be released Nov. 21) starring Robert Downey Jr. as Lopez and Jamie Foxx as Nathaniel Ayers, the musician who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.





So why not just wait for the movie? Downey Jr. is a great actor, and Foxx, having played another gifted-but-disabled musician in Ray, just might pull off the mix of inspiration and delusion.





But scenes recorded for the movie won't capture the author's commentary. At one point, for example, Lopez decides to spend a night on the streets as a homeless person alongside Ayers, who demonstrates how he taps a stick on the sidewalk to scare off rodents. Lopez observes: "He's a classical musician who has taken a great fall and now finds himself fending off sewer rats, but when I look into his eyes, I find no hint of regret, no recognition of this nightly collision between beautiful thoughts and ugly reality."





Most important, the process of reading through the months and months of coordination it took among several people to get Ayers off the streets and into treatment (tentatively, provisionally) mimics the one-step-forward, three-steps-back hassles that Lopez endured just to make Ayers' life a little better. Movies accelerate problems, then "solve" them in two hours.





Director Joe Wright allowed us a glimpse, in Atonement, of a happily-ever-after ending that's severely undercut by stark realities. Reader-viewers of The Soloist will anticipate an ending that offers the hope of continued treatment for Ayers, not a cure. Lopez's book ends with the question of whether Ayers will be able to continue attending concerts at Walt Disney Concert Hall, let alone performing in them. Wright knows that sentimentalized Hollywood endings aren't welcome here.





Otherwise, you can stroll out of a cineplex somewhere this Thanksgiving and justly say, "The book was better."

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Masters of 
Eminent Domain
  • Masters of Eminent Domain

    The city relies on a rarely used power to force a property sale — but was forcing the issue really necessary?
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • 'Bigger To-Do List'
  • 'Bigger To-Do List'

    Efforts to include racial distinctions in SPD data stall; plus, Obama stumps for Inslee
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • Q&A: PHIL TYLER
  • Q&A: PHIL TYLER

    Meet the new president of the Spokane NAACP
    • Jun 30, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • Felonious Judgment

    A community of hope and restoration can be ours with fair chance hiring
    • Jun 23, 2016
  • A Thin Résumé

    With zero experience in the public policy arena, Donald Trump needs to start listening to those who do have it
    • Jun 9, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation