Soloist — the Movie

I read the book, Soloist, last year and was greatly moved and touched by the story. So, when I heard that they were movie making out of the book, I was excited. Finally, after many weeks of resistance, my wife relented and borrowed it from RedBox (by the way, there is an interesting story on RedBox on New York Times today.) She is a cellist and does not like movies featuring cello as they generally do not represent cello-playing accurately. This was not an exception — after seeing the trailer, she was already disappointed and refused to watch it. Until yesterday, although she did not finish watching it.

After watching the movie, I was quite disappointed by the movie. The storytelling was flat, failing to bring the richness of the original story as represented in the book. The cellist from the LA Philharmonics was depicted as a comical figure at best, although in the book, the cellist was represented as a much more thoughtful person. I am not sure which one is a true representation and how the cellist feels about his character in the movie. Furthermore, even though I am not a musician, I was disappointed that the actor who played Mr. Ayer did not bother to learn the most basic posture and fingering techniques for cello playing. At the basic minimum, he should have tried vibrato when he plays cello. After all, Mr. Ayers went to Juilliard and I cannot imagine Juilliard letting anyone in who can’t do vibrato properly! In fact, when I saw real Mr. Ayers playing cello, I felt that he was overdoing his vibrato. So, it was obvious the actor did not study Mr. Ayers and his cello playing enough. I was however moved by the fact that the movie actually had people at the Lamp Community.

So, for those who haven’t watched the movie, I would recommend to get a copy of the book instead. You will never know how Mr. Ayers met Yo-Yo Ma at the end of the book, if you only watch the movie.

Professor | Writer | Teacher Digital Innovation, Design, Organizational Genetics Case Western Reserve University

2 thoughts on “Soloist — the Movie

  1. As one who did not read the book, I felt that the movie was wonderful. I saw it at its “world premiere” on our Semester at Sea reunion voyage back in January. The producer, Gary Foster, was on board and gave a little talk afterwards and answered questions about the movie. Gary also produced Sleepless in Seattle, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and many other recognizable titles.
    I ran into him on deck and we chatted a bit. He is a very down-to-earth and friendly guy, and not just because he offered to send me a Blu-Ray version of the movie!
    But setting aside personality issues, I think reading the book that on which any movie is based will seem “flat.” It’s happened to me nearly every time. On the other hand, when I see and like a movie first, then read the book, it really enhances my experience with the movie.
    This movie provided a pretty realistic glimpse at a mental illness that we do not see very often, or we see in a comedic way (e.g., Rain Man). Thanks to the fact that it is based on (and is said to be quite faithful to) a true story, it does not follow standard formulas for how the plot is to unfold.
    So if you have not read the book, then you just might be just like me and love the movie, vibrato or not!

  2. Dennis, I agree with you that all movies made out of books tend to be flat. And, I also agree that the movie did a good job of highlighting the issues of mental illness and the transforming power of music.

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