Today i’m going to be reviewing soul. As i predicted in my top 10 films of 2020. This film did indeed make me cry but for reasons, i did not expect. So hold your lollipop and hear me out.
Soul film Cast
Stars: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Graham Norton
Soul film Review and my Opinion
Soul tells the story of Joe. A jazz musician who is still waiting for his big break. After securing a gig that will change his life, he falls in a manhole. But doesn’t quite die. He ends up in youth seminar formerly known as the great before. It is a place where young souls develop and gain personalities before being sent to earth to be born. There he meets 22 a soul that has been unable to find their spark and has therefore not been sent to earth yet. This unlikely pair team up and via a freaky Friday storyline, involving a cat. They tried to get Joe’s soul back in his body in time for his big musical performance.
What’s interesting about the topic and themes of this Pixar film is that they are not concrete. We’ve previously seen Pixar tackle physical objects such as toys, cars, bugs. We’ve even been taken as far as emotions with inside out. So they still had distinct features that were easy to comprehend.
In soul Pixar takes on the afterlife and before life. Things with inconclusive properties that have been speculated about by every culture and religion on earth. They have previously explored the afterlife using traditions from Mexican culture in coco. But soul seeks to portray a less specific interpretation of the same themes. The world they have made is tantalizingly creative, visually exciting and filled with important details. One of these details is the lost souls who are particularly heart breaking.
They have desert looking landscape with a starry sky. In that sky there are these bubbles filled with the souls of living people who are so enthralled by an activity. Their souls occupy a place between their living body on earth and this spiritual other. This is such a beautiful way of visualizing the experience of being so absolutely inspired by something that you zone out.
However beneath these inspired souls are the lost souls, patrolling the desolate landscape like ghouls. These are individuals that have become plagued by negative emotions and mental health issues. Symbolized by this heavy black sand that covers them and increasingly weighs them down. These are incredibly mature themes for a film that also features a talking cat and the absolutely adorable blobs that are the young souls.
It is this perfect fusion between playful and serious that makes Pixar film so powerful. Soul is a feast for the eyes. I have no doubt that any child would enjoy watching this. But the messages that this film gives for the adults are equally important. As Joe sees a collage of moments from his life, he says my life was meaningless. 22 later speculates whether they are just not good enough for living. These lines represent fears that so many people have Joe believes with all his heart. That thing getting this gig of his dreams will have meant his life did have meaning that everything was worthwhile. But as you might have guessed this turns out to not be the case.
The filmmakers encourage the audience to look around and enjoy every moment. It is an exhausted mantra that has been written into every self-help book. The reason that i cried when Joe learns this lesson is because he is experiencing small things that i have come to miss during this ongoing lockdown. The thing i can’t separate from the experience of watching the film just like last week’s film pieces of a woman.
Soul hits differently during a pandemic. There is nothing i would like more than to ride a crowded underground train. Go and have a nice chat with my hairdresser and enjoy the music of buskers. These are things that 22 is experiencing for the first time. Soul certainly makes me appreciate the things that i have taken for granted. To deliver these meaningful messages soul takes a stylish approach. Visually i have already mentioned the image of the lost souls. There are many more examples. I loved, the design of the ethereal beings that oversee the souls with their cross-dimensional look inspired by Picasso paintings and wireframe sculptures.
This line-based design was furthered in the hall of everything. A place where objects from earth are used to inspire young souls. These objects were drawn very much like blueprints. Lines were also used when Joe is falling from the conveyor belt that takes you into the light down to the u seminar. He turns black and white as if drawn on a chalkboard. There’s also a period where his color bleeds in much the same way as was used in spider-man into the spider-verse.
This type of mixing of visual styles and blending of 2d and 3d effects reminded me of a short animated film called rabbit and deer. When i first watched it i was very impressed and still am at the simplicity and effectiveness of it. And i would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys animations.
Back to soul which is just as stylish musically as it is visually. With a soundtrack featuring jazz music inspired by our main character Joe. It is not a genre of music i usually associate with children’s films. I think it makes a wonderful addition to the story. This gives this Pixar film a distinct sound compared to other films.
So Koko had a guitar player, soul has a pianist. It seems that the best vehicle for themes of death is a musician according to Pixar. To bring the story to life we have quite the mix of voice actors. Jamie Foxx voices Joe and Tina fey voices22. I am used to seeing and hearing Jamie Foxx in more serious action roles. I think he did well in bringing some playfulness to the character. His background as a musician undoubtedly helped bring some authenticity to Joe as well. I wasn’t sold on faze voice at first. But i ended up really liking it.
I think it’s that layer of sarcasm and sass that really helps deliver this character that has lived forever and also not at all. I also absolutely loved Rachel house and Richard Ayoade as terry and councillor jerry respectively. They were absolutely hilarious especially when playing off one another.
Then there is the character of Moonwind whose voice turned out to be that of graham Norton. He was an unexpected treat playing a quirky captain roaming the desert landscape and rescuing the aforementioned lost souls. In describing scenes from this film i have said so many strange sentences that feel like they belong in a children’s book.
Soul is definitely an adventure one that has taken me to places that i’d never have expected. It somehow makes the topic of death light hearted but also incredibly moving. It interweaving important life lessons throughout its playful story, such as to relish each moment and to always look where you’re walking.