Review: Soul


Soul, a new movie from Pixar has been met with rave reviews across the world. It has been praised for the way in which it deals with very complex emotions and has been described as one of the production company’s most emotional offerings to date.

The movie is about a jazz pianist who has a near death experience. He gets stuck in the afterlife and spends his time contemplating certain choices he made and regretting his existence, most of which he took for granted.

Soul is co-directed by Pete Docter, the Pixar veteran, alongside famed screenwriter Kemp Powers, who has most recently also written Regina King’s phenomenal One Night in Miami.Powers is said to have worked alongside consultants such as anthropologist Johnetta Cole in order to ensure that the film’s cultural reference points were accurate. 

Despite Soul’s very heavy themes, the movie has a very light touch to it. The film has been likened to “an extended riff, or a five-finger exercise, which is very much in the spirit of jazz, an improvisation-centred art that’s honourably and accurately depicted onscreen whenever Joe or another musician character starts to perform” by Roger Egbert.

The film’s prologue peaks when Jamie Foxx’s character, Joe, falls into an open manhole, which leaves him comatose in a hospital bed. This becomes the ending twist to Joe’s perfect day, which saw him being offered the job he wanted as well as delivering a stellar performance in an audition with jazz legend Dorothea Williams (voiced by the incredible Angela Bassett).

Following his near-fatal experience, Joe’s soul finds itself in the Great Beyond. Here, all souls line up before heading towards the white light. However, Joe is not yet ready to journey to The End, so he flees, trips and falls in the walkway and ends up in The Great Before – a bright, colourful purgatorial zone.

Soul has been likened to greats like Up and Inside Out, which came before it. The film beautifully addresses deep, existential issues through the wonderfully accessible language of animation. While the movie deals with very heavy issues that have led many to believe that this animation is more for adults than it is for children, it really is a treat for the eyes and offers up a fair bit of visual brilliance. It is an overall pleasure to watch and the artwork used to represent the imagined planes between life and death is truly something to behold.

Apart from the beautiful visuals, Soul also has an excellent original score by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor. The jazz compositions and arrangements were done by Job Batiste, perhaps best known as the band leader on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. Jamie Foxx provides the film with a great level of emotional depth which is particularly poignant as this is Pixar’s first ever black lead character. It’s sure to be box office gold and as rewarding as if you were to buy cryptocurrency.

Soul also stars the voice talents of Tina Fey, Graham Norton, Phylicia Rashad, Questlove, Donnell Rawlings, Fortune Feimster, OchuwaOghie and Margo Hall, to name a few.

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