Just when Jamie Foxx gets back into my good graces with a nice, nuanced performance in The Kingdom, he goes and indulges his worst glory-seeking interests by taking the lead in The Soloist, a true-life biopic (ugh) centered on the heartbreaking tale of Nathaniel Ayers, who tumbled from being a Juilliard prodigy to schizophrenic and homeless.
I don’t mean to trivilaize the awful misfortune Ayers has faced in his life, but, in a way, I think Hollywood does. Okay, so you make a big, sentimental, probably heartwarming – when all is finally scripted and manipulated – film about a guy who, like thousands stranded on Skid Row, is just trying to keep himself fed and out of harm’s way. Wouldn’t the thirty to fifty million dollars Dreamworks will end up spending on this cynically-developed Oscar bait (before marketing) be better off allocated to charities that know how to actually help these people? How much money will be raised in Ayers’s name when this movie comes out? I’m sure there will be some kind of fund raising effort commissioned in his name as Dreamworks pushes the The Soloist towards a Best Picture/Actor/Whatever nomination; will it come close to matching the film’s budget?
I’m serious. Do these movies generate enough charitable contributions via awareness alone to justify the narcissism that goes into their making (Foxx is already learning to play the violin and cello)? If so, then I’ll shut up. It just seems like many of these films are about awards first, people second.
Joe Wright, who’s bucking to be the next Lasse Hallstrom, will direct The Soloist.