I have written before about learning so clearly that every homeless person has a story of how they lost their way, how they came to be where they are. In that posting, I wrote of hearing one man's story, and how it changed my view of all homeless people after that.
Last night, I saw the movie, The Soloist--a true story of a Los Angeles Times reporter who meets a homeless man playing the violin on the streets of LA, and learns the man was once a musical prodigy and had attended Julliard. As the reporter learns more and more about the man's life, he is drawn into helping him, and becomes his friend.
The real musician that is featured in this movie, Nathaniel Ayers, had an amazing future in front of him. By all accounts, he was gifted, a prodigy, and all those who taught him or played with him had no doubts about his future success. But while attending Julliard, schizophrenia set in, and Nathaniel's life was changed forever.
All of the actors are amazing in this movie. The reporter, Steve Lopez, is played by Robert Downey Jr. and Nathaniel is played by Jamie Foxx. There were moments watching Jamie play this man, when you could see him remembering all that he once was, all that he had lost, and it was heartbreaking.
What I didn't touch on in my last post was the frightening reality that so many people that are homeless are suffering from some form of serious mental illness, and are either undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or without family or resources. A large number of schizophrenics find their way too homelessness, because this horrifying disease leaves those who suffer from it in such turmoil about what reality is, most hear voices, and the ability to just survive in any way with schizophrenia becomes a victory.
The movie does a excellent job of putting you in Nathaniel's head and letting you understand first hand how frightening and tormenting this disease is. You FEEL the pain of losing your grip, not understanding what is happening to your mind, your body or your life.
I cried several times during the movie, and thought of all the homeless people out there, who once had normal lives, families, dreams and ambitions who are 'lost souls' that no one may ever discover or take the time to know. I think of the randomness of Steve Lopez meeting Nathaniel, and know that there must be other Nathaniel's out there.
The beauty of this story to me is: one person can make a difference. Nathaniel's life was changed, brightened, and made more beautiful by one man who wrote one story, and then could not walk away.
Please see this movie! Check out the official website here, where you can learn about the movie and also see the real Nathaniel and Steve being interviewed on video.