Academy Award-nominated Atonement
director Joe Wright
teams with screenwriter Susannah Grant
to tell the true-life story of Nathaniel Ayers, a former cello prodigy whose bouts with schizophrenia landed him on the streets after two years of schooling at Juilliard. Steve Lopez (Robert Downey Jr.
) is a disenchanted journalist stuck in a dead-end job. His marriage to a fellow journalist having recently come to an end, Steve is wandering through Los Angeles' Skid Row when he notices a bedraggled figure playing a two-stringed violin. The figure in question is Ayers (Jamie Foxx
), a man whose promising career in music was cut short due to a debilitating bout with mental illness. The more Lopez learns about Ayers, the greater his respect grows for the troubled soul. How could a man with such remarkable talent wind up living on the streets, and not be performing on-stage with a symphony orchestra? Later, as Lopez embarks on a quixotic quest to help Ayers pull his life together and launch a career in music, he gradually comes to realize that it is not Ayers whose life is being transformed, but his own.