Thursday, July 30, 2009

Manipulative Melodramatics

ImageThe Soloist (Dreamworks)

Originally Oscar bait, this cloying true story with Robert Downey Jr. (as a cynical news reporter) and Jamie Foxx (as a homeless musical wunderkind) ended up dropped from a prime holiday release to the wilderness of early 2009; seeing it on Blu-ray reinforces the idea that someone probably decided that not even the easily-fooled Academy voters would fall for such blatant manipulation. That’s not the fault of the actors, who give fiercely committed portrayals of men transformed by an unlikely friendship, even if they are ultimately undermined by Joe Wright’s directing, which opts for maximum sentimentality. Visually, the film’s uneasy mix of downbeat and inspirational melodrama is matched by Wright’s alternately bright and dark palette, which the Blu-ray transfer renders flawlessly. The extras include a Wright commentary and deleted scenes, along with featurettes presented in high-definition.

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