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Critical Review of The Movie The Soloist

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This assignment is a review of the movie “The Soloist“ which was based on a Schizophrenic man Nathanial Ayyers. The movie Soloist was a based on a real story.

As I go further into the essay I will be writing a brief summary of the movie. Furthermore how the movie was depicted, my view as an audience and How well the mental disorder was depicted in the movie. Including how the symptoms were portrayed in the movie. Criticizing on the movie from a mental health perspective. Including literature review of the Disorder that was portrayed in the movie which will further give a more clear understanding of the disorder ,highlighting its risk factors and prognosis adhere to DSM.


Schizophrenia affects around 20 million people worldwide and although it is not known as the most common mental disorders it is believed to start at a younger age and is more prevalent among males. As far as the society is concerned, mental health stigma is very common due to which many people go undiagnosed or without proper treatment.

The Soloist is one of those movies which bring on a lot of insight into the world of schizophrenia. The movie was based on a true story of a friendship between a columnist Steve Lopez and a homeless street musician Nathanial Ayers who was once a student at Juilliard. Steve met Ayers at a low time of his life when he was recovering from an accident and was struggling for a good story for his column. As soon as he met Ayyers, he saw the extraordinary talent he has for music and his struggles with schizophrenia. This led Steve to be inspired to write about Ayyers story in an attempt to help him and others like him. Ayyers was a homeless man living on the streets, he plays music with his two string violin. He like wearing funny hats. As the movie progress the bond between Ayyers and Steve was nicely depicted. Childhood days of Ayyers was shown as flash Backs. From the start even he was different he used to live in the basement dueling to his music.

With the help of Ayyers Sister Steve published his first article about Ayyers and was bombarded with a lot of support .One of the readers even gifted her old cello to Ayyers.

As the movie progressed the struggle of convincing Ayyers for psychiatric treatment was seen at times, leaving Steve overwhelmed and hopeless.

Though Ayyers was not willing for treatment or leaving the road to live in a shelter a clear and major progress in his behavior was seen in the movie. His bond and relationship with Steve grew beautifully. Finally living his dream to play music.

Schizophrenia being one of the psychiatric illness that is very loud and clear where u are able to sees what is going on with the person unlikely with any other mental disorders.

“According to the DSM5 Schizophrenia is categorized with the symptoms of delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior and dysfunctions in the area of occupation and social interactions”. (Association, 2013) As stated in the DSM 5 the symptoms of schizophrenia must be present for six months including at least one month of persistent symptoms, which also require the individual to be present with at least 2 of the specified symptoms to come with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The movies soloist was depicted very nicely highlighting the most prominent symptoms of schizophrenia and its effects to the victim. Looking into the movie it is very evident that Ayyers was having auditory hallucinations which is indeed the most prominent and common hallucination in Schizophrenia. Ayyers were showing symptoms of thought broadcasting where he thinks that others can hear his thoughts.

As Ayyers onset was shown in his younger age .At first he started having paranoid thoughts and acting strangely, sometimes his emotions were seen rather unpredictable and inappropriate. He even started having hallucinations. His persecutory delusions were visible when he started believing that his sister wants to poison him. He even forced his sister to eat the food that she bought for him and was observing for any dangers. Ayyers’ situation got worse when he was performing at a rehearsal in Julliard; there he had a breakdown leading him to be hospitalized. Ayyers’ speech was rapid and confusing showing symptoms of bizarre speech. A flattened affect was seen in Ayyers speech. Speaking without or limited expressions.

Some of the symptoms which were shown are auditory hallucinations, disorganized speech, thoughts, and paranoid delusions. From the symptoms that he was depicting it was clearly seen that he was having paranoid Schizophrenia. This is one of the types of schizophrenia.

Ayyers flash backs of voices from the past, waves of paranoia and strange obsessions were portrayed comparatively well in the movie.

The onset of Ayyers mental illness was seen from his younger age and progressed more into his adult hood, leaving him homeless and on the street. The Onset of Schizophrenia can be as early as childhood and can progress throughout his life. Making the person to have difficulty in their thoughts and perceptions, often times withdrawing themselves from all social contacts. (Havard Health Publishing, 2019)

“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. Although the course of schizophrenia varies among individuals, schizophrenia is typically persistent and can be both severe and disabling.” (Health, 2020) Schizophrenia leads to changes in ones thoughts perceptions; emotions and social life .which often lead the person to isolation and discrimination from the society. In the movie it was clearly evident that Ayyers was isolated and detached from reality.

Although the symptoms of schizophrenia are very clearly depicted in the movie also highlighting the psychosocial aspect of the disorder, a person who doesn’t have a clear knowledge of the disorder might not be able to grasp the symptoms and changes in his social life. This could be making a person who has no prior knowledge in mental health more confusing to watch the movie.

Looking at the therapy and help which Ayyers received .A beautiful impact of empathy and acceptance was seen in the movie. Ayyers progressed personally with the unconditional acceptance and empathy that he received from Steve was one of the most significant highlights of the movie. However it showed a clear picture of how difficult it is was convince a schizophrenic patient to agree to seek help and accept therapy. This is due to the lack of insight the person have on the reality of their mental health. A more clear and good therapeutic approach could have made the film more effective and better. The therapeutic part of the film was very vague. At the end of the film Ayyer was still shown in the same mental state and treatment was not resolved however his life did improve with the friendship and opportunity to relive his talent for music.

“Although symptoms may vary widely, people with schizophrenia frequently have a hard time recognizing reality, thinking logically and behaving naturally in social situations” (Havard Health Publishing, 2019) the person with schizophrenia lack insight which result in difficulty in thinking logically and behaving or standing up to the norm of the society.

According to (Health, 2020) Schizophrenia is known to emerge mostly in the late teen years and between the early thirties and most likely to occur earlier in males than females.

The onset of schizophrenia is rather early in life mostly during the teenage years.

A combination of genetic and environmental causes contributes to schizophrenia. The chance of schizophrenia increases in 10% if an immediate family member, which is a parent or sibling is diagnosed for the disorder. A 65% chance if an identical twins is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Several genes are identified to increased risk in schizophrenia. These genes are likely to affect the way the brain develops and how nerve cell communicates.

Schizophrenia is a life long illness which cannot be cured permanently but can be managed with proper treatment and rehabilitation. Schizophrenia includes periods of psychosis. The person lacks insight into reality and if effects social interaction. Isolating from the society and ending up on the streets homeless and unemployed. Considering the sigma we still face in our society in regard of mental health issues most of the people who suffer from schizophrenia either go undiagnosed or without proper treatment and support from the family and the community. If the person drifts away from his support system the life expectancy might be decreased. This can lead to many other issues like getting into an accident due to poor judgement or being sick due to poor hygiene. However, with proper treatment and support from loved ones the effects of schizophrenia can be minimized. Which can help the person to live a near to normal life with proper medication and therapy (Havard Health Publishing, 2019)

It is said that the prognosis of schizophrenia gets better if the symptoms are observed after the age of 30 with a rapid onset. Not having a family member who is diagnosed for schizophrenia is even a good sign in terms of prognosis.


In conclusion I would like to say that the movie was worth the time and It did bring a lot of insight into the life of a schizophrenic patient. Highlighting the early onset .which was portrayed quiet well in the movie. Touching almost all the symptoms of schizophrenia, However as I stated earlier the movie could have been better if a good therapeutic approach was shown. Which actually give hope that although not cured completely it can still be managed and the person can be functioning in the society .With proper medication and various types of therapy’s that can be used in treating schizophrenia.

Works Cited

  • Association, A. P. (2013). American Psychiatric Associaiton. Retrieved from file:///C:/Users/RAUHATH/AppData/Local/Temp/APA_DSM-5-Schizophrenia.pdf
  • Havard Health Publishing. (2019, 2). Retrieved from HAvard Health Publishing:
  • Health, T. N. (2020, 06). The National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from NIMH:

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