Saturday, March 6, 2010

'The Blind Side' and 'The Soloist'

I did not get to see The Blind Side in theaters. I know, I know, I missed out. I'll definitely check it out when it is released on DVD.

I did hear the basics of the true story of The Blind Side in an interview with the family at the center of it. In a nutshell, Leigh Ann Touhy and her family take in a homeless young man named Michael Oher. They lovingly raise Oher as part of the family and he becomes a college football All-American and a first round draft pick in the NFL. It is a great, inspirational story.

There was another movie released in 2009 based on a true story of someone attempting to help a homeless person. This one is entitled The Soloist and it did not do as well at the box office nor did it generate the buzz of The Blind Side. A few weeks back I picked up a previously viewed copy of The Soloist for $1 at a video store that was going out of business. I watched it last night and it too is a great story.

The story begins with Steve Lopez, a writer for the L.A. Times, encountering a homeless man named Nathaniel Ayers who was playing a violin with only two strings. It turns out that Ayers was once a student at the famed Juilliard School but he was living on the streets when Lopez found him. From there a friendship develops that takes many twists and turns. It is a relationship through which both men are transformed for the better.

I'm guessing that The Soloist did not generate the hoopla of The Blindside mostly because it does not have a storybook ending. Oh, don't get me wrong. It is a great ending--an uplifting ending. But Ayers does not move from the streets to become a successful musician in an orchestra somewhere. However, he does move to a much better place than he was when Lopez first found him. But then, in a very real sense, Lopez was also moved to a better place than where he was before he met Ayers.

From what I experienced in viewing The Soloist and from what I heard in an interview of the Touhys both of these movies are worth seeing. They both remind those of us who are not poor that genuine, loving friendships with those who are poor can make a difference for the better in our world. And that's a great lesson.

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