This is a well acted, and mesmerizing tale of the relationship between an Investigative Journalist, and homeless man with an interesting tale.
It stars Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls) as Nathaniel Ayers, a former student at the prestigious Juilliard School of the Arts, but now down on his luck living on the streets, which he has chosen to do (Apparently Jamie Foxx used a chisel on his perfectly immaculate set of white teeth, to give an authentic look for a homeless man. He said he looked at himself in the mirror rehearsing for the role, and said a homeless man would not have such a perfect set of teeth. You have to admire the dedication), and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron man, Tropical Thunder) stars as the Investigative Journalist Steve Lopez.
We first meet Nathaniel as Steve is feeling a little sorry for himself, his arm in a cast after a previous accident, and simply looking to while away the time, he is enchanted as no doubt the audience will, by the seemingly well-disposed Nathaniel who sees the beauty even in the busy sidewalk where he plays his violin with a few strings missing. Steve Lopez typical of an Investigative Reporter checks out his story, and indeed confirms he was at the prestigious Juilliard School of the Arts.
In his attempts to help Nathaniel settle into a life of normalcy and start playing again in front of an audience, he soon realises Nathaniel is certainly not well-balanced, and this is where the great acting permeates through, because you are never quite sure of the mental state of Nathaniel, at any moment in time, one minute he is calm, relaxed, and sociable, leaving the audience to wonder how he could have got to such depths in the first place, and the next moment, you realise he is not well at all.
The only family relative for Nathaniel Steve could find (and no doubt the audience also wonders about) is his sister Jennifer, played by the lovely Lisa Gay Hamilton (The sum of all fears), but it never deviates from the main thrust of the movie, the relationship between the unstable Nathaniel and the attempts to save him by his new friend Steve Lopez, and you are left on the edge of your seat hoping for the best but not being too optimistic.