The Soloist would easily be named as one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's up there on the list with Doubt and Rachel Getting Married (which, despite the language I challenge all to see, at least for the family/relational dynamics).
Jamie Fox plays a schizophrenic homeless man, Nathaniel, who happens to be a brilliant musician. Nathaniel grew up in the midst of 60's black degradation and through this was exposed to a lot of social turmoil and violence. Music became his livelihood and escape fro mthe terror he was experiencing. Discovered in a city square forty years later by Robert Downey Jr., journalist Steve Lopez, the two become friends and form an unlikely bond.
Committed to bettering his life, Steve takes Nathaniel to a homeless shelter called Lamp. Here the viewer is given a powerful image of the forlorn state of the homeless in Greater LA. Beyond this, the viewer also pexperiences a powerful image of the injustice of the law regarding the homelss. It would seem that to those with power, the homeless are simply of no consequence. Though they have no where to sleep at night, these men and women are removed from any place deemed 'unfit' for them to lay their heads.
The owners of Lamp welcome Nathaniel, as they do most, and work with Steve to bring him back to his musical history. As a result of this relationship, Steve becomes a sort of God to Nathaniel. And though he is convinced he can fix this for Nathaniel, Steve is constantly aware of his inadequacies and inability to provide a solution. He works to get him into the health system; to get him diagnosed and on medication but is told that being who he is, the last thing Nathaniel needs is another diagnosis.
A revelation of grace occurs for Steve. By witnessing Nathaniel's humility and courage, he is able to learn to live without question. He is able to committ to being Nathaniel's friend and instead of providing a solution, providing love.
This is the underlying message given; the homeless are not scary, disease ridden or to be avoided. They are just lacking in hope; forlorn. What is needed is not the ability to provide a solution but simply to love and care and provide friendship. And perhaps along the way food and clothing too; but that must not be where it ends.
Those who live and view this film are left with a profound understanding of the need to love the homeless and I am personally grateful for the inspiration that has transpired as a result of it.