LA Times Columnist Steve Lopez is tired of his life, chasing after a scoop and drifting apart from his friends and family. One day, in the middle of a street, he comes across Nathaniel Ayers, pouring his soul into a two-stringed violin. Lopez sees something extraordinary in Ayers and falls into conversation with him. It turns out that Ayers was once a brilliant cellist training at Julliard School of Music but that he is now schizophrenic and having trouble displaying his genius for music. Writing newspaper columns based on Ayers’ story, Lopez learns more and more about him. But, when Lopez reaches out to help Ayers return to the world of music and let his musical talent bloom, Ayers refuses to accept his offer. A very touching human drama about the encounter between a columnist tired of his own life and a musician lost in his life, their friendship, and their healing process through music, Soloist, is much more meaningful in that it is based on a true story. The third feature film by Joe Wright, the director of Pride and Prejudice and the Academy Award nominated Atonement, Soloist also indulges audiences with the impressive performances of two actors playing the roles of the two men sharing a special friendship: Robert Downey Jr., whose real acting credentials are newly appreciated recently, and Jamie Foxx, who won an Oscar for his performance in Ray in 2005 and is a musician in real life. Moreover, with the LA philharmonic’s performance under the baton of maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen, not only the music but also the appearance of the maestro himself, is an amazing gift that this year’s opening film offers. In the film, music‘s role as a mediator connecting these two people from utterly different backgrounds is very important. As the film’s second title, Imagining Beethoven, implies, Beethoven is a symbolical figure who embodies the love for music that Ayers could never let go of even at the moment of despair. Known to be inspired by Beethoven Symphony No. 3 ‘Eroica’ and Symphony No. 9 ‘Choral’, the film’s original score is the work by Dario Marianelli, who was also in charge of the music in Joe Wright’s previous film and won an Oscar. It effectively delivers the mental agony of Ayers struggling with himself and adds emotions to the screen with beautiful, rich melodies at the same time.