Add L.A. Times critic Kenneth Turan to those reporting back with lukewarm reviews of "The Soloist," despite wanting to like it.
I could back up and write all this in the reviewer's traditional third person, but that feels disingenuous. After all, I do know Steve Lopez, whose wonderful Los Angeles Times columns and later book about his unlikely friendship with a gifted but deeply troubled street musician started everything. And I work with Lopez at The Times, which, in an unprecedented gesture, offered its newsroom as a set and has in general bound itself to this movie with remarkable fealty....
Despite all I know I should feel, I can't help being mightily frustrated by "The Soloist." I can't help resenting that it suffered the death of a thousand cuts and, more frustrating still, that all this happened in the name of doing good in the world, of making the story's powerful lessons more palatable to a wider audience.
But by consistently and relentlessly overplaying everything, by settling for standard easy emotions when singular and heartfelt was called for, by pushing forward when they should have pulled back, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Susannah Grant have made the story mean less, not more. Instead of enhancing "The Soloist's" appeal, they have come close to eliminating it.