Manohla Dargis and Robert Downey Jr., Sittin’ in a Tree...

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Just pretend that Renzo Piano masterpiece is Manohla Dargis, will ya? She's photographed even less frequently than Nikki Finke! Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, Courtesy of Dreamworks

Has Manohla "Movie Killer" Dargis gone soft? Evidence seems to suggest she has! Not only did she admit to composing her 2008 year-end top-ten list "in the admittedly alien spirit of optimism," but she was also part of the Times triumvirate that crushed on Anne Hathaway back in January like a fourth-grader on Valentine's Day. And now, in her review of The Soloist, the formerly fearsome film critic proves herself to be a big softie when it comes to the talents of one Robert Downey Jr. Not only does she describe Downey's work in the film as a "darkly shaded, nuanced performance, one that deepens this film with its insistence on the fundamental mysteries of human character," but she goes on to slather him with this gushy sentiment: “The Soloist wouldn’t work half as well without Mr. Downey’s astringent, bristly take on a man whose best intentions eventually collide with difficult truths. The actor is a wonder." Get a room, you two!

Movie Review: The Soloist [NYT]