The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright, is a film that explores the relationship between two men, Nathanial Ayers (Jamie Fox) and Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.) on opposite sides of the social spectrum. Its major themes: the mind, isolation/internal struggle, social hierarchy and morality coincide with traits of classic Hollywood cinema and in some ways the idea of the American dream. The Film uses certain motifs that are evident throughout and emphasize the psychological and personal struggle both characters endure. The film makes a slight effort to stray from your typical "movie" but mostly adheres to the more traditional structure and feel of a traditional Hollywood picture. This is mainly attributed to a large budget and desire for mass commercial appeal.
The Soloist, for the most part, follows the classic three act structure and incorporates many themes of classic Hollywood cinema. Within the first 30 minutes we are introduced to the two main protagonists, Nathanial and Steve. In this first act we learn much of their back-stories and that the title of the movie applies to both characters despite their differences. Both men are sufferers of isolation and lack of direction. This sort of personal conflict is typical of classical Hollywood cinema. Steve Lopez represents the every day "digital" man who lives in his own world atop the city he resides in ( Los Angeles). We see many scenes where he is physically elevated above everything and one in particular where he is actually framed above the city on a bridge or an overpass. In the beginning he is depicted as a distant observer, one that reports but is not particularly "hands on" with his material. He is at a disconnect with mostly everything in his life. With Steve we see many "decapitation" scenes, where the shot is framed where we can see only his head for an extended period. One in particular is at the end of act one where he is standing in somewhat of a trench in his lawn or garden at home attempting to rid it of raccoons. This I believe is done purposely to further accentuate his disconnect with aspects of social or personal interaction. On the other side we have Nathanial, a man who is obviously struggling with his own personal/mental disorder of schizophrenia. Alternatively, Nathanial is depicted as the opposite of Steve. He is almost always shown below everything. We see many scenes where he is in the basement or somehow below any activity that is going on in the given moment. One scene in particular is towards the end of the first act where we see a young Nathanial in the basement playing the cello while his family holds a party upstairs. This is the first of many scenes where he is presented this way. The meeting between these two characters acts as the inciting incident in the stories structure. Their relationship begins as professional but develops into, a first resisted, friendship.