Whilst Soul only debuted on Christmas Day, it could be right up there with the best films of the year. Produced by Pixar, Soul follows the misfortunate adventure of Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), after a devastating accident on what he believes to be the luckiest day of his life. Due to this, his soul emerges in the ‘Great Beyond’, a void where souls experience their last moments, leading him on a quest to reunite with his body and live again.
Like its sister movie Inside Out, Soul is fabricated through the immersive imagination of Pete Docter and his fellow writers Mike Jones and Kemp Powers. Every scene is colourful and visually alluring. From the seamless transitions as Joe falls from the Great Beyond into the Great Before, to the bustling atmosphere of present-day New York. All these depictions encompass the vast capability of Pixar’s animation as many styles of artistry are present and none disappoint in quality. The lovely, abstract styles of the Jerry’s in the Great Before and the adorable shape of the new souls as each character was really distinguishable.
Docter has also been creative in the inclusion of jazz music as a backing for the film, represented through Joe’s pursual of the industry to fulfil his ‘purpose in life’. Jazz doesn’t get enough recognition in modern films, so Joe’s passion towards the genre is important to showcase it to a new generation of viewers. Whilst sceptical about the inclusion of music in this film due to La La Land being the only memorable film I’ve watched that authentically incorporates jazz and it’s distinct tones, Soul outshone my expectations. The composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross drew me in at each inciting event and created an ambience that appeals to both the childlike nature of the film and the adult undertones.
Furthermore, whilst the plot appears on the surface as simplistic and childlike, Soul is wittily mature in the messages it conveys to viewers. The foremost being live your life to the fullest and enjoy the simplicities of everyday experiences. Bask in the joys of walks in nature and eating pizza, because nobody knows when you may lose them. Joe never notices these simplicities until he has to mentor stubborn soul 22 (Tina Fey) and only through her curiosity, does he see how locked away in his own world he’s been.
Another key message highlighted in this film is that our passions and interests don’t have to define us or our purposes. Pixar has taught viewers that whilst we may believe we have to follow a predetermined path in life, it’s not true. Anyone has time to change and those who may seem lost can still find themselves and discover their ‘spark’. Our spark could be anything just as long as it means we are happy with our lives and can live them to the fullest.
Don’t worry though, Soul isn’t overly deep in its themes and is a film that can be enjoyed by any age group. Its comedic aspects will highly appeal to younger children as well as older generations. One key scene, where Joe accidentally ends up in the body of a cat instead of his own, is universally hilarious. It’s entertaining to watch him navigate his hometown from another perspective and the frustrations he endures towards 22 along the way.
Overall, Soul is a beautiful movie which effortlessly captures the essence of life and what it means to live. At points, I laughed and at others, shed a few tears. With this film, Pixar has successfully paved the foundations for a new generation of wonderfully animated movies that provide inspiration and enjoyment to a global audience.
Words by Emilia Butcher-Marroqui
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