||Director Joe Wright (ATONEMENT, PRIDE & PREJUDICE) brings the true story of an unlikely friendship to life in THE SOLOIST. An award-winning columnist with the Los Angeles Times, Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) ultimately becomes an advocate for L.A.?s homeless population when he meets Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx), a talented musician who's been playing a two-stringed violin while living on the streets and battling mental illness. Struck by Ayers?s passion for music, Lopez begins to write a series of columns about his new acquaintance while attempting to get him off the streets and playing music again. Amidst numerous achievements and setbacks, Lopez and Ayers develop a friendship based on mutual respect despite their many differences, and Lopez rediscovers his humanity.^While the focus of the film is the relationship that develops between the two men, the film also tackles the harsh realities of homelessness and the plight of the mentally ill. Lending authenticity to the story, a number of L.A.?s homeless population were cast as extras in the film. An additional subplot is the quandary that daily newspapers face as the world and the news increasingly go electronic, and popular news becomes more sensationalistic. Foxx is both heartbreaking and life-affirming as Ayers, whose undiagnosed schizophrenia drove him away from Juilliard as a young man, and whose fierce independence keeps him on the streets. Downey Jr. turns in a nuanced performance as Lopez, who finally realizes that while he may not be able to save Ayers, he can accept him as he is. Catherine Keener, Lisa Gay Hamilton, and Tom Hollander appear in supporting roles.