The Soloist is a movie about a Los Angeles journalist, Steve Lopez, (Robert Downey Jr.) who befriends a schizophrenic, homeless Julliard-trained musician, Nathaniel Ayers (Jamie Foxx).
This movie raises questions about mental illness, social injustices and homelessness. However, the message that most resonated with me was about friendship and acceptance. Nathaniel is a lonely, homeless schizophrenic man who still deeply values his personal dignity and sense of Self. Steve is conflicted throughout the movie about whether or not he should try to treat or ‘fix’ Nathaniel’s schizophrenic condition; or if he should accept Nathaniel for who he is and just try to be his friend. This is a constant battle and tension that leaves the viewer wondering how or if this conflict will be resolved.
There are no easy answers. On one hand, Steve is trying to offer treatment and opportunities that could change Nathaniel’s circumstances and condition for the better. However, the more he pushes Nathaniel to try to improve his life, the more their friendship suffers and the more Nathaniel regresses. Steve struggles with how to balance his desire to be a good friend while still wanting to help Nathaniel change his life.
The resolution of the movie, without spoiling the plot, helped me realize that true friendship means to love and accept others for who they are and also for who they are not. This perspective can open our hearts to allow ourself the freedom to be who we are and who we are not. This process is a way of honoring our most Sacred Self with unconditional appreciation, trust and love.
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