Tuesday, September 16, 2008
My happy place has just released the trailer and a featurette for The Soloist. Waxing lyrical about Joe Wright not so long ago, I wondered how his vision would translate to an American setting, and in a biopic no less. But from the opening strands of the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No.1, you can just tell Wright has this in hand. Given Wright's penchant for repeating music themes, I'm hoping this story about a musician will be a match made in heaven. And if he's chosen Bach as his central theme, so much the better.
The trailer does come across a little melodramatic though. There are a lot of tears, a lot of angsty close-ups, not to mention the perhaps no-so-pc sight of a white guy 'rescuing' an African American musical prodigy. And be warned, the interview with the real Lopez and Ayers in the featurette does little to help this. I'm hoping they were just being awkward in front of the camera.
Despite this, I'm betting Wright is going to deliver. The following blog post from a preview screening suggests that the marketing may belie the real scope of the film:
The only trouble I envision for this thing is marketing it, because any attempt to describe it makes it read insufferably sweet. Imdb (incorrectly, as it turns out) describes the plot as "A schizophrenic, homeless musician from Skid Row, Los Angeles dreams of playing at Walt Disney Concert Hall." (Sort of makes you want to reach for the insulin right now, doesn't it?) Makes it sound like one of those grandiose, inspirational stories that make audiences all weepy.
The Soloist isn't that picture. It aims much smaller. And I'm not spoiling anything by saying the movie does not end with the homeless guy playing Disney Hall to the cheers of an adoring audience. It's based on a true story and is rather better described as "A newspaper writer stumbles across a homeless street musician who actually has talent, and tries to help the guy. A little." It isn't sweet and sappy and pretty -- it's ugly and nuanced and real. It's homelessness and mental illness and politics and journalism ... and music.
Here's hoping she's right! Check out the trailer and let me know what you think.
Australian release date is set for 5 February 2009.
UPDATE: 3 SEPTEMBER 2009
...And because I'm an unapologetic West Wing geek who now can't hear the prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No.1 without thinking of Yo-Yo Ma playing it during Noël, you can check out the scene here.