Based on the true story of musical prodigy Nathaniel Ayers, who developed schizophrenia in his second year at Juilliard and ended up homeless on the streets of downtown L.A. where he performs the violin and cello.
The drama is based on the relationship the musician developed with Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times reporter whose column informed the script, as did a book Lopez is writing that Putnam will publish in the spring.
It’s intriguing that this film is based on a true story. Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx) is a homeless man but different than most. He is a musical prodigy who attended Julliard and who has a mental illness. When L.A. Times news reporter Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) comes across him on the street and hears him play, he can’t help but take an interest in Ayers’ story and background. He begins by writing about him and how he plays a violin with two strings. Soon people donate instruments to Ayers and Lopez begins to take a personal interest in Ayers, trying to figure out what is wrong with him and if medication would help.
The positive side to this movie is that it is well made. Robert Downey Jr. puts his heart into the role of Lopez, the reporter with a big heart. Foxx is exceptional too as Nathaniel. The story is interesting and the direction is taut. The themes include helping people out and ultimately, Lopez determines to be Ayers’ friend no matter what. The negative side of this movie is that it is not a family movie, as it has strong language in it consistently and some bloody scenes. It is unfortunate but we are unable to award our Dove Seal to this movie as a family-friendly picture.