The Soloist

Life Ruined by Schizophrenia.

The Soloist (2009) vividly demonstrates mental illness, anxiety, and issues of social justice for homeless people.  As indicated in this movie, Los Angeles area alone has over 90,000 homeless people on the streets; many of them have mental illness.  In this movie, Nathaniel Ayers (played by Jamie Foxx), a music talent, has walked through an unfortunate journey from Julliard to the streets.  Once a promising musical student at the Julliard School in New York, Nathaniel developed schizophrenia and eventually found himself without treatment and without a home. Nathaniel plays his broken violin on the streets of Los Angeles while living as a homeless person in 2005.  Nathaniel is not along; in the U.S. tens of thousands of people with severe mental disorders are currently homeless (Comer, 2010).

As seen in the movie, when Nathaniel was a child, instead of playing sports, he devoted all his time to play the cello, which proved that he was a gifted kid in music, and also, he put himself in a self-restricted mode indicating more or less abnormal dispositions.  During his life in Julliard, he started to hear voices that could overwhelm him, a typical symptom of schizophrenia.  He behaved weird such as running away from auditorium and talking to his mom on the phone without actually connecting to her.  Later, Nathaniel’ schizophrenia drove him insane and he acted violently, pushing and slapping his friend Steve, a journalist who tried to help him out of street.

Like Steve, families and friends of mental illness patients are frustrated for helplessness as they have no idea how to cure the illness.  But still, what we can do is to give our hands and hearts to them, – as Mary (Steve’s ex-wife) said,  all Steve could do was be his friend. Even if we cannot cure them, our help could make a difference.  In the movie a psychiatrist told Steve that his friendship alone gave balance to chemical misfire in Nathaniel’s brain, but he can’t attest to it.  To Steve, his friendship with Nathaniel gave him courage had made him a better person. The positive side if this film is that, because of the help from Steve and others, Nathaniel and his fellow homeless patients no long live on streets, and Nathaniel can spend his life on his passion, – playing  the cello, as well as violin, bass, piano, guitar, trumpet, French horn, drums and harmonica.


Comer, R. J. (2010). Abnormal psychology (8th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

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