See The Soloist with Jamie Foxx as a schizophrenic cellist

The Night Cafe by Van Gogh, 1988

The Night Cafe by Van Gogh, 1988

Today I saw The Soloist, featuring Jamie Foxx as a homeless man with schizophrenia who had been a gifted cellist and a student at Juilliard, and Robert Downey Jr. as a burned-out reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The film is based on a true story that became a book by the reporter, Steve Lopez. It’s another Oscar-worthy performance by Jamie Foxx, whom I loved as Ray Charles, and Downey is great as usual, although he’s playing to type as a dissolute, world-weary guy.

Most importantly, the film is a graphic depiction of the harsh realities of schizophrenia. As someone who worked in a psychiatric hospital for 12 years as an art therapist, my primary question was why on earth they didn’t manage to get the poor guy onto some effective meds! They can make life a lot better, and they don’t necessarily destroy creativity – I should know, I’ve been on a modest regimen of low-dose medications for years now for my bipolar disorder.

See the film before it disappears. For those in the Capital District, it’s at the Spectrum through Thursday.

Van Gogh painted The Night Cafe in 1888, two years before his death. He frequented this cafe and described it as a place one might easily go mad. He sold only one painting during his lifetime, but of course his paintings now sell in the multi-millions. This one is in the collection of Yale University, and to me, it vividly portrays the kind of claustrophobic, angst-ridden mood experienced by Jamie Foxx’s character, Nathaniel Ayers.

Thanks to the positive reaction to the Grant Wood painting yesterday, I’ve decided to try including some art with each of my posts. For me, it’s a way of getting in touch with my other persona, the visual artist.

9 thoughts on “See The Soloist with Jamie Foxx as a schizophrenic cellist

  1. Your question on why the movie character was never put on meds is a major mental health issue in this country. Many folks who are mentally ill refuse to be treated, and if they don’t meet the criteria of being a danger to themselves or others, they often cannot be forced into care. Even those who are persuaded to seek treatment can refuse to stay on prescribed meds for one reason or another. It’s incredibly difficult for family members or anyone else to intervene under the laws of most states, and it’s impossible to get information that would help the mentally ill family member because of federal privacy laws. It’s a big problem that deserves a lot of attention.


    • I agree, Patricia, this is an incredibly complicated problem where both sides have compelling arguments, and you state it very eloquently. Consumers often refer to psychotropic meds as “chemical straitjackets,” and it’s true they can damp down creativity. But I firmly believe that the major mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have a strong biochemical component. With the right meds, people with these illnesses can achieve a level of stability and happiness while keeping their creativity and drive. The trick is finding a shrink who has the time and insight to know what he or she is doing and to be sensitive to the patient’s response.

  2. Pingback: Blog Article and Video about  See The Soloist with Jamie Foxx as a schizophrenic cellist « Julie … - Jamie Foxx

    • Yes, I’m a great Jamie Foxx fan. This morning in the paper I read he’s coming to the Times Union Center for a musical concert in Albany. I don’t know if I’m enough of a fan to spring for a ticket. He’s a good singer, but I’m not really into his genre (smooth jazzy soul, from what I’ve heard.)

  3. Last night a local friend who’s an excellent editor pointed out an error in my Jamie Foxx Post. A minor one, but I’m a compulsive editor and a perfectionist myself, so I fixed it in one spot. The error remains elsewhere in the post, though. I know how I might be able to fix it, but it would take too much time and effort.

    It also took time to delete the critical post. Reminder, folks – letting bloggers know about their mistakes is great, but doing it offlist via e-mail is better than telling the world about it. (Of course I don’t post my e-mail address on my blog, so that’s a problem in itself.)

    That said, I’m not that sensitive, so I’m not shattered by public critiques. I’m just saying . . .

    How good a copy editor are you? Can you find the goof? (Patricia, no fair replying; I know you already know the answer because you replied to the original comment.)

  4. Hi there, I just stumbled upon your website while browsing around the Internet as I’m searching for some material on electric cellos!. I think it’s an interesting website so I have bookmarked you and intend to revisit tomorrow to give it a better browse when I’ll more free time.

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