A journalist tries to help a homeless schizophrenic cello prodigy find his way in the world. Steve Lopez is an Los Angeles Time journalist down on his luck. He's divorced from his editor, he suffers a severe biking accident, and he has nothing on his plate worth writing about. Finally, he hears inspiration in the form of a violin: he follows the music to its origin, a homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers. He strikes up a conversation with Nathaniel, only to discover that he shows signs of severe schizophrenia and that he claims to have attended Juilliard. At first, it doesn't seem like it's worth writing about, but when he discovers Ayers truly did attend Juilliard and was the most gifted cellist they'd ever seen, he decides to pursue it as his next story. He learns from Nathaniel's sister that he started hearing voices while in school and subsequently dropped out. When Lopez writes his article, a reader sends Ayers a cello as a gift, and Ayers begins both performing for people in public and persistently following Lopez around, causing him some levels of irritation. Lopez tries to help Ayers at every turn, trying to get a doctor to assist in caring for him, and even hiring a professional cellist to work with him daily as a form of musical therapy. However, when Ayers one day blows up at Graham and threatens to kill Lopez for trying to get him put into medical care, Lopez must find a way, with the help of Ayers' sister, to get Ayers to forgive him and to hopefully perform a cello recital for his newfound fans.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a terrific story, and Downey Jr. is the ultimate leading man to play a jaded journalist, but Foxx's performance feels affected and throws off the film on the whole.
Best scene in story:
When Lopez hears Ayers play, the screen turns to a variety of colors, as if it's the visual manifestation of hearing brilliant art. It's a bold choice, and it pays off.
Opinion about the main character:
Lopez is a very appealing main character, with a great sense of humor and self-deprecation. It's the supporting characters that let the film down, not Downey Jr. as Lopez.