‘The Soloist’ pulls at the heartstrings

Tom Andrew and Tom Andrew

The music of Beethoven has been known to stir even the harshest soul, the coldest heart and the non-lover of music.

“The Soloist” is a true story about reporter Steven Lopez, played by Robert Downey Jr., and his quest to find a story.

One hazy Los Angeles afternoon, Lopez stumbles upon Nathaniel Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx, a homeless man who is in the park playing a two-string violin.

Lopez, does his homework and calls around to get more information about his subject. He discovers that Ayers was a self-taught cellist and went to Julliard, although he never graduated.

Lopez runs the article and a reader responds by sending her old cello to him as a gift for Ayers.

Through a series of flashbacks we learn of Ayers’s mental affliction and his love of Beethoven, and why he ended up homeless.

Lopez gets a few more good stories out of his subject, and in the meantime gets personally involved with wanting to help Ayer, get him back to playing professionally, and helping him get his life together.

The Soloist was directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement”) and written by Susannah Grant (“Erin Brockovich”) and is based on the book by Steve Lopez.

The action of the film takes place in and around Los Angeles, and unfolds like a squeezebox.

Downey immerses himself in the role as Lopez and, yet again, turns in a surprisingly touching performance.

Foxx takes the role of Ayers and through the writing, and in his performance we see that this is a man who, despite his mental limitations, has made his choice to live his life the way he wants to; without medications and without the help of others.

Catherine Keener, always amazing to watch because she is so natural in just about everything she does (“40 Year Old Virgin,” “Capote,” “Into The Wild”), plays Lopez’s editor and ex-wife.

And lastly, the other supporting player is, well, the music. For anyone who loves music, or has a love of the arts, will be moved. Never intrusive, and always just right, the strategically placed music haunts the film.