This exquisite novel is no self-help book, but The Soloist will serve the purpose. Cellist Renne Sundheimer, once a famous child prodigy, is reduced to teaching second-rate college students (and one young Korean genius) and pathetically fantasizing about a comeback. Salzman takes a seemingly irrelevant (though intriguing) detour when Renne serves on a jury for a murder trial that turns on issues of insanity, obsession, and spirituality. But suddenly it’s the most relevant thing in the world: Renne’s harrowing experience as the lone holdout juror forces him to see his failed life in a whole new way. In lesser hands this would be sentimental rubbish; in Salzman’s, it’s life-affirming. Even if you weren’t a child prodigy, Salzman’s wisdom will tear you apart and then put you back together. A+

The Soloist
  • Movie
  • 109 minutes